You Don’t Need a Job Candidate’s Social Security Number at the Application Stage

by Evil HR Lady on February 25, 2020

You need your employes’ social security numbers. Employers are one of the few organizations that really need social security numbers, as you have to pay employees, withhold taxes, and pay taxes. It’s important that you have it.

But, it’s not important that you have the social security number of job applicants. You don’t need it at the application stage. Yet, many businesses ask for it in the application stage.

A reader sent me a link to a job application for a reputable company. It included this information about social security numbers:

We use information collected from applications for employment online to make employment decisions. Your Social Security number provided in an online employment application will be used to identify your records, and for background checks and other requests for information about you from employers, schools, banks, and others who know you, to the extent allowed by law. The information we collect using your Social Security number will be used for employment purposes and also for studies and statistics that will not identify you. We also may provide information we collect about you from online employment applications to federal, state, and local agencies to check on any violations of the law or for other legal purposes. Providing your Social Security number is voluntary and you may refuse. However, we cannot process your application, which is the first step toward obtaining employment with us, if you do not provide us with this information.

In other words, we’ll do whatever we want with your social security number, and you can’t apply without giving it to us. I mean, what studies? What statistics? That’s pretty vague.

To keep reading, click here: You Don’t Need a Job Candidate’s Social Security Number at the Application Stage

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Elizabeth West February 25, 2020 at 4:47 pm

THANK YOU.

I will back out of an application and away from a company that requires this if the application doesn’t let me put in 0’s or leave it blank. City and county jobs often require it, but I’m beginning to question even that.

Also, your doctor’s office does not need it either!

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A Simple Narwhal February 25, 2020 at 7:09 pm

I agree, I always enter some obviously fake number and if they insist on a real one, buh bye. Unless this is once and a life time opportunity to get paid Scrooge McDuck amounts of money to pet puppies, it ain’t worth it.

…Though tbh any job with that description and salary that demands a SSN up front is probably a scam, so really there is no reason to ever put in your social to just apply for a job.

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Liz M February 26, 2020 at 4:00 am

Untrue. Your doctors office does need it. It’s a required field in most EMR’s (though you can override for someone who doesn’t have one with 0’s) Insurance companies use it to verify your information and sometimes request it. It can be used to differentiate you from someone else with the same/similar name and/or date of birth. Because your SSN is individually identifiable information though it’s considered protected under HIPAA.

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Lisa February 25, 2020 at 6:27 pm

I was just asked as part of a program called Tax Credit Screening. I was redirected to a ADP site to add my social security number. I tried Linkedin to ask if this was really required. A part of me thinks I should submit it because I’ll prob be 1 of 2 that do and increase my chances for the job.

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Horse Tense February 26, 2020 at 2:49 am

In the good ol’ days of Community College, they required my SSN in order to assign me my student ID # — which was my SSN.

When I complained, I was told it was absolutely up to me to allow the College to use it, and if I wished I could have an alternate # assigned. However, if I chose that route I was informed I would be barred from financial aid disbursed at that institution permanently.

Also the Doctor’s office here won’t accept you as a patient if you do not provide your SSN#. I don’t know how legal or illegal that is, or if I have any recourse. I just know I needed to be seen; the fact that I even asked has caused me to be viewed with suspicion at that office forever after.

As for employment, there were a few places that had a paper application, where I saw the front desk people just leave applicant’s materials out for all to see (or passerbys to just walk off with).

I also pretty sure I had a few of my applications tossed unshredded in the trash the second I was out of sight, as I learned later that there were a few places notorious for this (Can someone get in legal trouble for that by the way? Or does it depend on company policy?)

In the case of the paper applications, I always put “Will provide upon offer of employment”… but I guess I should not be suprised I never got a call back, really, as I was warned that incomplete applications would not be processed.

I always prayed these were not the employers the Unemployment Office Examiners would call, as the mishandling of your personal information was not a good enough reason to not to seek or decline work from one of these places.

Because how could you know it was mishandled if you didn’t go to work for them?

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Bluey February 26, 2020 at 2:59 am

Years ago I applied for a job as a admin type position. It was for a company that made industrial grinders.
They wanted to me to fill out, at the 1st interview stage some sort of credit check, we need your SS# and whatever else info. Ummm no.

I really did need a job but told them I was not going to give them all of that info at this point.

I think the interview itself went well with the hiring manager complimenting me on my cover letter and we really hit it off in the general discussion and interviewing part.

I have no doubt that not giving HR all that info upfront put a major kabash on any chance at all for that job regardless if I kicked booty in the interview.

I stuck to my guns and did not regret it at all.

I am now, over 5 years at another place that is 10 mins from my house, jumped from PT to FT in less the 2 yrs and got a promo after 5 years.

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