They will lie to get your SSN info...

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by DC_DEEP, May 24, 2007.

  1. DC_DEEP

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    As many of the regulars know, I'm very protective of my personally-identifiable information, especially my social security number. I have gotten into some rather heated arguments with various agencies/organizations/businesses over whether or not they need that information. Invariably, they at first try lying to me to get the info, saying "it's required by law." Invariably, I challenge them, demanding that they provide a copy of the law. Invariably, they backpedal and claim it was all a misunderstanding. Invariably, their demand for my SSN violates the Privacy Act of 1974.

    Anyway, here's the latest abuse. I was having problems with my cell phone. When I contacted Cingular customer service, the agent lied to me; and I'm sure she was not aware that she was lying, I'm betting that in her training, she was lied to about it. Anyway, I contacted Cingular. Here is the email I sent, and their response.

    From: DC_DEEP @ server.com
    Sent: Tuesday, May 22, 2007 8:17 PM
    To: PRIVACY
    Subject: Cingular's privacy and account policies


    During a conversation with a Cingular customer service representative, she informed me that use of Social Security Number for account identification was required by law.

    Please forward to me a copy of the law (she was vague, I do not know if she meant a federal or state or local law) which requires that a customer provide the SSN before service is established, or at least a searchable citation.

    Keep in mind, I asked 3 times if this was Cingular policy or law, and she assured me it was law. She referred to "The Privacy Law". I asked her if she meant the Privacy Act of 1974, and she repeated, "it's The Privacy Law."

    Thank you for your time.

    DC Deep
    202.555.1234

    -----

    From: PRIVACY <privacy@cingular.com>
    To: DC_DEEP @ server.com
    Sent: Wed, 23 May 2007 10:56 am
    Subject: RE: Cingular's privacy and account policies


    Dear Mr. Deep,

    We apologize that you were misinformed by our representative regarding the use of your social security number.



    When activating new service, we ask for social security number to run a credit history on a potential customer. If their credit history is poor, a security deposit may be required for the service of the phone. If a potential customer does not want to provide their social security number, we will then try and run their credit without a social security number.



    As far as using social security number for account verification purposes, a customer can request to add a passcode to their account to verify identification in lieu of verifying the last 4 digits of their social security number.



    Thank you.
    The Privacy Team
    Cingular Wireless, now the new AT&T

    When I opened this account 3 years ago, I went through the same thing, they claimed it was law that I provide the SSN. They backed off when I asked them to have their legal counsel contact me. I did not provide the SSN for the account, even though the customer service agent I spoke to claimed that there was an SSN on the account.

    Everyone wants it, very few should receive it. Careful, folks. I know where they are going with this. Before long, they will want to require it tattooed on your forearm. After that, we'll all get to wear our Lucky Charms (they're magically delicious!) including the yellow stars and pink triangles.

     
  2. Urgles

    Urgles New Member

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    Hmm... that is interesting. To my understanding (I could certainly be wrong in thinking this), the only agency to which you are absolutely obligated to give your SSN when it requested is the government. However, many businesses like to use your SSN for certain things like credit and background checks. It would never be required by law to provide the entity with your SSN, however I do believe they can refuse you service for not providing it.

    I certainly do understand your concern in your post for privacy and security, and the more recently increased demand for the SSN when dealing with legal entities. I'm not trying to make little of this - just trying to feel out a balance between privacy and security, and mobility and functionality when the SSN is so widely used. Sure you don't need to provide it, but do you really want that job? or that new service plan? or that new insurance policy? etc.
     
  3. dudepiston

    dudepiston New Member

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    Wow, good story. Thanks for sharing. Always a pleasure to speak to a customer service representative who doesn't know what he or she is talking about. =) They're just trying to do their job, and Cingular will have to improve their privacy training, for sure. I guess you can request a Tax ID, to use in lieu of your SSN. I've considered doing that, figuring it might be helpful but then again it might be just switching one number for another.

    It was nice of her to call you "Mr. Deep", though.

    :biggrin1:
     
  4. DC_DEEP

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    You are correct about government agencies being the only ones legally entitled to demand your SSN - even at that, not all gov agencies have that authority, and the ones that do are required by law to present you with certain information at the time they ask for the SSN. None I have encountered so far do that, they only provide the required info if you demand it.

    As for other businesses, some may refuse service if you fail to provide SSN, others are not. Public utilities may NOT withhold service for failure to provide SSN. They will still tell you up front that the law requires it, even though they know that is not true.

    I'm still trying to figure out (not really, I think I know, but...) why the public library or medical/dental/vision care providers want your SSN. Even with plenty of government-issued ID and up-front cash, they still want your information.
     
  5. DC_DEEP

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    I'm certain that Cingular (and other companies) know full well that they are training their service personnel with inaccurate and illegal information, but they do it anyway.

    Unfortunately, most people just assume that it IS the law that they hand over their SSN to anyone who asks for it, or decide it's too much trouble to stand firm against giving it out.

    I'm just a little concerned with how that information will be used, once the federal government gets their "SmartID" scheme in place. I'm not doing anything illegal or subversive, I have nothing to hide... but I am fearful of the concept of a national database capable of tracking every minor detail of your life - what you purchase at the grocery store or pharmacy, what books you purchase at WalMart or check out from the library, where and when you travel and who you visit while you are there, how much money in your bank accounts, and who and when you call on the phone. I just do not trust big brother's "benevolent" interest.

    I have, on several occasions, had my passport refused as a valid ID. They wanted a driver's license.
     
  6. B_Think_Kink

    B_Think_Kink New Member

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    I worked for cingular rebate centre... I know we can ask for the last 3 digits of you SSN.... maybe... actually I don't remember... yeah I'm pretty sure we could.
     
  7. HazelGod

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    I was onsite at a customer location (oil/gas/energy company) last week to perform a proof-of-concept for some software solutions that are under negotiations right now.

    Their project manager requested several items of info from me in order to get me access into their network...one of these items was "the last 4 digits of my SSN."

    I refused, as this can be used for verification by banks and credit card agencies. We went through a bit of a pissing match over it, but after me explaining my reasons and expressing the uselessness of this info to them for any purpose, the PM decided to fly me in under the radar.

    Anyhow, my "paranoia" stretches all the way back to late '93, when I entered college and blew a gasket when my student ID had my SSN printed in bold on the front. Needless to say, nowadays most schools' student ID numbers don't bear any resemblance to an SSN.
     
  8. DC_DEEP

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    Right. Need to know? I don't think so. So far as I'm concerned, the ONLY entity with a "need to know" is the IRS, and any intermediaries - my employer, my bank where I have an interest-bearing account... definitely not the gas company. I have issues with state DMVs, too, but that's a much more difficult battle.
    Not paranoia. Back in the early 1980s, my sister worked for the US Postal Inspectors. After one of their case investigations (no details for you), she called me, and demanded that I call the DMV immediately and request that my SSN be removed from my license. After we talked a bit, and after I did some research, I decided that my SSN would no longer be handed over to just anyone, simply for the asking. It has to be a need to know basis.
     
  9. SpeedoGuy

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    I'm stressing about a similar tactic.

    I recently went to purchase an Oregon fishing license from a sporting goods retailer in town. This is the first fishing license I've purchased in decades.

    The salesperson asked me for my name, address and SSN. I politely refused to give my SSN, claiming the state fish and game department had no need of my SSN. The salesperson replied that an SSN was required for a fishing license by state law. No exceptions.

    I asked to see the store manager who politely repeated the salesperson's stance: state law requires an SSN for purchase of a fishing license. The manager explained that the state court system requires the SSN during fishing license purchases to identify deadbeat dads who are delinquent on their child support payments.

    I dislike deadbeat dads as much as anyone but I don't fully buy this story about requiring SSNs for a fishing license. Crap, its a wonder I wasn't asked for fingerprints as well. I agree with DC_DEEP: I just don't see why the local fishing tackle retailers should be forced into the law enforcement and collections business.
     
  10. agnslz

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    I don't know how it happened (though it probably was by giving my SSN in the manner which DC_DEEP warns about), but someone already has stolen my Social Security number. They've been using it for the last two years, and they've had thousands of dollars of income posted to my number during that time. I found this all out from an agent at my local Social Security office while inquiring over the phone about inconsistencies in my annual "points" statement. She repeatedly asked if I'd been working the past couple of years, to which I continually told her that I hadn't been. She then told me about the earnings posted under my number in that time period. I was dumbfounded and asked how it could happen and what I can do about it. She was seemingly unphased by it and told me that it happens all the time and she would send me some paperwork to fill out and have the earnings stricken from my number. I received the papers which had the person's name, and the name and address of the company where they worked. I tried to contact them, but I never was able to. I ended up sending in the paperwork, but have yet to hear anything more about it from Social Security. I want to change my SSN, but many people I've talked to have told me that it's nearly impossible, so I don't know what else to do. It bugs the hell out of me and I want to stop this person, or anyone other than me, from ever using my number again, but I just don't know what I can do about it. I guess just hope that the government is going to handle it for me.:rolleyes:

    I don't even want to think of what else this person has done with my number.:eek::mad:
     
  11. DC_DEEP

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    This was a partially honest answer he gave you. Game & fish, DMV, court systems... all those state agencies have a whole fucking LAUNDRY LIST of other agencies with whom they all share all your information. You give your number at one agency, and it is transmitted to all other agencies on the list, compared, synchronized, cross-referenced, and sent back to the originating agency. Did you know that the Privacy Act explicitly requires any governmental entity to provide you with a statement of exactly how your information will be used, and how it will be protected? They violated federal law when they failed to provide that to you BEFORE asking you for your SSN.

    My guess would be collected and sold by one of your utility companies (yes, believe it or not, they do that!) and then carelessly handled after the sale.
    The Social Security Administration will only grudgingly change the number for someone in the Federal Witness Protection Program. I seriously doubt they will assist you here. I would recommend you go back to the SS office, and speak to the same woman you spoke to before. Ask her if it is a crime for another person to use your number. She will have to answer yes. Then ask her who enforces that law. Suggest that she actually take action, instead of just snorting a "so-what" at you. I'll see if I can find any more information for you.
     
  12. agnslz

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    Thank you DC_DEEP. I have wanted to inquire of them as to what, if anything, they've done since I sent in that paperwork. I most assuredly will contact them again. And what you said about changing my SSN certainly jives with what others have told me about that. I'm certainly not in the Federal Witness Protection Program!:biggrin1:
     
  13. HazelGod

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    Whatever, Crabman...your secret's out. They're already on their way to get you!
     
  14. B_cigarbabe

    B_cigarbabe New Member

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    Okay, I know this is somewhat off-topic but it relates to how your info can be used without your consent,by any idiot off the street!
    Sorry about everyones hassles,and thank you DC_DEEP for the frightening info.Also I admit I was stupid,letting a druggy stay at my home while trying to get him "clean".
    Ahh! If only I knew that before a supposed "friend" stole my ID.
    I let a "friend" stay with me,after he burned his house down,while smoking crack,and he stole my ssi card. He had credit cards issued under versions of my name, with a well known credit card company. I already had a card from said company but, that didn't prevent them from issuing several more under my name!
    I only found out when, I happened to come home early from work one day, and found him with my mail.
    As I was opening the credit card bill,I noticed that it said I withdrew money from a bank across the street. I said "I would never take out money from a card,I have money in the bank,wtf "? Tommy quickly made an excuse about having to go.
    I went to the bank,called the credit card security and the police.
    I got pix from the bank,showing Tommy, taking money out on my birthday,while I was still putting this asshole up at my house! Nice guy huh?
    I expected the police to arrest him,since they said he had warrants
    but what happened was stranger. The police in Everett,Mass.refused the next week to arrest him,"it's not an arrestable offense" they claimed.{I harrassed them, about this for months,and I believe they retaliated against me for that}.
    I filed charges with the Postal Inspector too,not a damn thing have
    I ever heard from them.This guy has an 20 year long record of major felonies but was able somehow,to escape jail again.
    He got a 18 month suspended sentence from the a.d.a., and me?
    I hate the Everett police and had to file charges against them for illegally taking my dog and trying to have him destroyed,for no apparent reason.
    C.B.:saevilw:
     
  15. musclebutt2

    musclebutt2 New Member

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    My mother was in a similar situation. A scumbag boyfriend did the same thing to her, took her years and thousands of dollars of attorney fees to repair some of the mess. It's still going on. The whole credit business is a scam. There are no consumer protections, it is only for the benefit of banks and corporations. When people like us get screwed over we are the ones who have to prove our innocence, it is the complete opposite of due process. Federal regulations including new bankruptcy laws have caved under the pressure of corporate lobby groups to squeeze the consumer even further. There's not much else to do except harass your senator and cogressman to change the laws.
     
  16. DC_DEEP

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    My sentiments exactly, musclebutt! Sorry your Mom went through that.

    My own personal feeling is that the Privacy Act of 1974 needs to be re-tooled again, but to make it harder, rather than easier, for companies and agencies to request your SSN. It may surprise some of you, but from my point of view, a credit card company has NO REASON to request your SSN... unless the credit card company is paying you money. But I'm guessing that YOU pay interest to your credit card company, not the other way around. Pressure your representatives to make fraud harder to accomplish, and much more unpleasant to be caught at.

    Identity theft and SSN abuse should be major, serious felonies.
     
  17. Caelestis

    Caelestis New Member

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    I used to work for HSBC Bank, Premier banking department, including their Premier fraud analyst team. For those that don't know: HSBC is one of the largest banking establishments in the world, and the Premier section was responsible for most of the weathiest banking customers. Multi-millionaires were HSBC Private Bank clients. Under that they were Premier. Due to my involvement with the fraud team, and my specialist knowledge of credit cards I was subject to some Private bank clients too. Yes, I've dealt with Princess this and Prince that...

    Anyway, with that in mind, trust in this advice:

    I strongly suggest you all take a strong interest in the companies that hold your information, why they need it and what they do with it. Employees of large corporations cannot be trusted. You may trust the company, but you CANNOT trust the employee.

    It's actually a little scary what some of these companies know about you, if you let them.

    In the UK we have the Data Protection Act (of some year, I forget). It allows us to demand copies of all personal information from any company. I assume the USA has a similar law? If not, campaign for it.

    You should spend a couple of dollars occasionally to see what these people are writing about you, and what information they really hold.

    I'm by no means a conspiracist, but I know facts, and I know some of the people that handle your personal information. I'm not trying to scare you, but you should hold a degree of doubt in your mind.
     
  18. DC_DEEP

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    Thanks, Caelestis, actually you should be trying to scare people. I'm familiar with HSBC, they heavily advertise their banking services here.

    I'm not sure whether or not the USA has laws that allow you to request, from any company, a copy of all your personal info that they hold. I'm not sure if they would honestly honor such a request, anyway.

    You would not believe the nasty things people say to me when I try to get them active in restoring some semblance of privacy here in the USA. But I fear that once we let go of that last thread, we will never ever retrieve any of it.
     
  19. Mr. Snakey

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    You are so right. With just the SS# you can find out everything there is to know about person. People need to wake up. With an address i can zoom right in on their house. This software is now available to anyone who has a computer. I dont and wouldnt do this. It just creeps me out. Dont give your SS# to anyone. Please!
     
  20. AlteredEgo

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    OMG! I am moving to Malden. I shop in the Everett Target! C.B., your story about the local cops here scares the bejeezus out of me. I thought NYPD was bad enough.

    People keep trying to steal my identity and open lines of credit. Too bad for them I still have terrible credit from some things I did in my late teens/early 20's. I just get the rejection letters in the mail. I can't tell you how many times I've had to contact the credit reporting agencies and have them put a red flag on my SSN.
     
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