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 <firstname.lastname@example.org> 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.