Should I give my social security number to the internet?
July 2, 2012 8:11 PM   Subscribe

Online job application requesting SSN?

Filling out a job application, the form is requesting a SSN in order to conduct a background check. It strikes me as unlikely that a legitimate company would want to pay to do background checks on anyone before doing interviews - and I just feel weird putting my social on this site that I know zero about.

I googled the organization and did find (positive) yelp reviews - so I guess they actually exist.

This is for an RN job.

Is this a thing? Do you think I should do it?

Note that the job market is really, really tough for new graduate nurses (which I am), so I'm hesitant to just blow off any job opportunity.
posted by latkes to Work & Money (9 answers total)
I've been asked my SSN on a bunch of job applications. Some had optional fields for it, some required it. Not sure why they need that information on the application, though. I guess it streamlines the process if you are considered for the job.
posted by KogeLiz at 8:17 PM on July 2, 2012

IIRC, when I was filling out online applications for restaurants last year I needed to fill in my SSN, as I did with paper applications. If they did background checks, it was further in the hiring process.
posted by DoubleLune at 8:19 PM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yeah, it's funny, I guess I used to put my social on paper applications. I forgot that.
posted by latkes at 8:26 PM on July 2, 2012

The Social Security Administration says you have the right to ask: why your number is needed; how your number will be used; what happens if you refuse; and what law requires you to give your number. I don't know how well that protects you against prejudice in hiring if you ask or refuse.
posted by gingerest at 8:29 PM on July 2, 2012

That link to the Social Security Administration also says:
A Social Security number is important because you need it to get a job, collect Social Security benefits and receive some other government services. Many other businesses, such as banks and credit companies, also ask for your number.
My feeling is that one's SNN is just not very private information. I give it out regularly. Rather than trying to avoid giving the information out to anyone (which would seem to be a lost cause), I would instead be suspicious of any security system that uses only my SSN for protection.
posted by John Cohen at 9:02 PM on July 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

I would put all 0's (zeros) in the field. If I am called for an interview, I would give it then. If there is a spot to add additional information, I would note that my SSN would be available for a prehire post interview background check. But, I am not real big on giving out my SSN for any reason including utility bills etc. I generally refuse with no negative ramifications.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:05 PM on July 2, 2012

I try to dummy in all 9's. If that doesn't work, I'll give it to them. I've never been burned.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:23 AM on July 3, 2012

While it is required to get the job and you must show proof of citizenship when starting work, I would decline to write it the same piece of paper that dozens of other applicants may file. The document may reside longer at the workplace than you do, even if hired. Just write "available upon offer" and cheerfully give it when they make a job offer. Not releasing it is for your own safety and they don't need it until they deem that they are interested in hiring you.
posted by dgran at 7:47 AM on July 3, 2012

I'm an RN. Many non-citizens are employed as RNs quite legally - note the many Philippine nurses specifically recruited in the 80s nursing shortage. Requesting SS might be a shortcut to determine legal employability, but it seems like requesting visa info would actually be more useful. I wonder if these sites are more generic, trying to identify those clearly not legally employable, which probably works well for some professions that typically recruit inside the US (but therefore missing lots of potential RNs). I would actually hesitat . . . but I speak as one who is employed.
posted by citygirl at 10:15 PM on July 3, 2012

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