Federal law (42 USC 405 (c)(2)(C)(v) and (i)) allows tax, welfare, DMV agencies, among others, to make a requirement of your social security number. Some others might cause you to think you must provide your Social Security number simply by asking you for it. The truth is, some agencies are not permitted under the federal law cited above to require your Social Security number.
The Privacy Act of 1974 addresses this issue. It requires any stage agency”whether local, state, or federal”to have a â€śdisclosure statement” on the form they are using to require your SSN. That statement should tell whether or not your SSN is a requirement and should explain its intended use, and the authority under which the number is being called for (5 USC 552a). Both the United States Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs can provide information about the Privacy Act of 1974. That act can be found in full-text at the United States Department of Justice website.
Privacy Act says very clearly that citizens will not be denied a service or benefit offered by the government when they refuse to give the government the requested SSN”unless disclosing the Social Security number is a requirement of federal law or the agency requesting the number is one that has been using Social Security numbers since before the Privacy Act became effective (1975). These arenâ€™t, however, the only exceptions. You may go to on the web and see Justice Departmentâ€™s explanation of these exceptions to these Social Security disclosure rules.
How to Deal with Social Security Disclosure Requests
If asked by an agency of the government to provide your SSN without a disclosure statement, citizens are advised to make a formal complaint to that agency, citing the Privacy Act of 1974. Although no penalty will be exacted, complaining to your congressman (or woman) or senator is also suggested.
Important to know is that there is also a more recent program, the Federal Parent Locator Service, together with its subset, the National Directory of New Hires, which was created by the federal government to help local government agencies find parents who are seeking to avoid their child support responsibilities. This program was also created to locate children whose parents have kidnapped them, or to resolve any child custody issue.
As you may already have surmised, this program requires no consent when an SSN is needed. Such programs as this are clearly beneficial, yet the databases involved hold the potential for ill use by people with dubious intent.