Can I give a recruiter a fake SSN?
June 24, 2016 7:31 AM   Subscribe

I've seen a number of posts asking about the safety of giving out the last 4-5 of your SSN, but if I want to pursue something and they insist, is there any reason not to give them an alternate number?

I am job-hunting and keep getting calls and emails where they ask for the last four or five digits of my SSN in order to submit me as a candidate. I'm pretty cautious since I was targeted by a few scams in the past, but the recruiters are pretty insistent and say the companies require it for tracking. I don't know enough about the companies to know if any of this is true and I generally avoid giving out all or part of my ID unless there's an offer on the table.

So, if they say there's no way to move forward otherwise and I just want to get my name in for consideration, does anyone know if it will hurt me in the future to give them a different number in lieu of all or part of my SSN?
posted by princeoftheair to Work & Money (13 answers total)
I am unaware of any legitimate jobs or legitimate recruiters that require your SSN or part of it to submit you as a candidate.

I would give them a different number.

I would also suggest that you be very suspicious of the people that are making these requests.
posted by saeculorum at 7:34 AM on June 24, 2016 [7 favorites]

Sometimes, for a lot of non-necessary data requests like asking for birth dates for gym memberships and fitness competitions, I give a slightly altered birth date, with one digit altered. If anyone asks, I would be like whoops, I must have entered that wrong. Had no problem ever. If I ever become an elite athlete, I imagine this might be a problem, but not me.
posted by moiraine at 7:35 AM on June 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

Depends on the situation. If it was to apply to a company •I• approached first, I'd probably give them my correct 4-digits, on the grounds that that most likely is NOT a scam.

If it was for recruiters or a company that •approached me•, then I'm afraid I wouldn't give them ANY number, correct OR fake. I'd just keep repeating some variety of Absolutely No to that situation.
posted by easily confused at 7:46 AM on June 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

They don't need your SSN until they need to run a criminal background check on you and you should be a LOT farther down the process for that (and they need the whole thing anyway).

This sounds like a total scam to me but if you want to go down that road just give them random numbers. Maybe they are using it as a tracking number in their applicant tracking system (which is stupid and not something I've ever seen in an ATS before), that is the case make sure you remember what the numbers are.
posted by magnetsphere at 7:50 AM on June 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

Tell the recruiter to use whatever number they want for your candidacy and that if you get and accept the job, you will gladly give the firm your entire SS number for tax withholding purposes or a background check or any other appropriate HR need. Let the recruiter make up a number if this is so important that way you never have lied or misrepresented yourself to the company.
posted by AugustWest at 7:52 AM on June 24, 2016 [6 favorites]

Yeah, agree with easily confused; I wouldn't have a problem with this request coming from a company where I applied for a job, but coming from a recruiter who is cold-calling you? No way. It would be a big enough red flag that I would no longer take calls from that person.
posted by craven_morhead at 8:11 AM on June 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

the companies require it for tracking
If this was true, they would require your whole number because any number of people can have the same 4 or 5 numbers at the end of their SSN. The only number that is guaranteed to be unique is the 9 digit string. It is not hard to figure out the first 3 digits of your SSN based on where you were when you requested your number. If they have the last 5, they can guess the remaining digit and/or easily try all ten versions. Make up a 5 digit string you will not forget and use it.
posted by soelo at 8:14 AM on June 24, 2016 [4 favorites]

Don't do this. Why are you even talking to these people?
posted by praemunire at 8:20 AM on June 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

I was an agency recruiter (not corporate, but recruiting for end clients) for 2 years so I can speak on this!

We ONLY ever ask for digits for the SIN number put into the client's HR system - they use the SIN to track each candidate and how many times they've applied, etc. It isn't us, but the client that requires this. Some clients ask for month and day of birth instead to track each unique client, but others are ADAMANT on the SIN. Some canadian banks come to mind for this.

Not everything recruiters do is sketchy! Sometimes, but not this! They can't do anything with just 3-4 digits of the SIN lol! And, honestly, we'd prefer to use something else anyways, but this is what the client wants for their system.
posted by rhythm_queen at 8:46 AM on June 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

"Accidentally" mix up a few of the digits, but be totally consistent about it. If it's ever an issue (like when filling out final employment paperwork), just say it must have been transcribed wrong.
posted by miyabo at 10:28 AM on June 24, 2016

They can't do anything with just 3-4 digits of the SIN lol! And, honestly, we'd prefer to use something else anyways, but this is what the client wants for their system.
The OP really wants to know if they would figure out and/or care if they are not the real last 4 digits. And they are asking about SSN and not SIN.
posted by soelo at 3:20 PM on June 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

A lot of the SSN is predictable, and comprised of an Area Number, Group Number and Serial Number, arranged form AN-GN-SN. A person applying clever statistical techniques to the Death Master File can find a lot of correlations, like which Area Numbers correspond to which ZIP codes, and the duration of a given GN for an AN. Surprisingly, you also have a decent shot at predicting the last four.

Still if I have your name, and I can find some proxies on your resume for where you were born (where you went to high school, current zip code), your age / date of birth (college graduation date), having your last four is pretty damn helpful. Asking for a candidate's last 4 SSN is sketchy, and any recruiting firms who's clients demand its collection should be pushing back far harder, or offering their candidates fraud insurance.
posted by pwnguin at 6:00 PM on June 25, 2016

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone, for the advice. I wanted to add that one of the recruiters I talked to was with a reputable agency and I went into their office to discuss a position with them, so I'm pretty sure they were honest unless they went through a lot of trouble to pull off a scam. At any rate, I've gotten into the habit of using an old phone number as a filler until they make me an offer or want to do a background check. I've not heard of this ever coming back, and I assume I can just say I got confused if they call me on it.
posted by princeoftheair at 6:01 AM on July 14, 2016

« Older What are the best (and worst) fake accents?   |   Citizenship question Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.