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Why is my Social Security number important?


The Social Security number is the primary bit of data that identifies American citizens and residents. The Social Security system was set up as part of the New Deal in the 1930s, and the number that each person over 14 was assigned was used to track their employment history so that they could claim Social Security retirement benefits when the time came and also to track employment earnings for tax purposes. Now Social Security numbers are required for all Americans virtually from the moment they pop into the world – parents apply for a number automatically when they apply for a birth certificate – and the number is used by entities inside and outside of government to identify individuals. That’s why identity theft typically involves theft of someone’s Social Security number and why it’s essential not to give out your number unless you’re very sure that whoever is asking for it really needs to have it.

-Conrad de Aenlle