Social Security Number: All-Purpose Identifier

Your Social Security number was never meant to serve the various functions it is used for today. Over the past 70 years, the Social Security number has become our de facto national ID. The numbers were originally issued in the 1930s, to track income for Social Security benefits. But “functionality creep,” which occurs when an item, process, or procedure ends up serving a purpose it was never intended to perform, soon took effect.

Banks, motor vehicle registries, doctors’ offices, insurance companies, and even utilities often require a Social Security number to do business. Why do they need it? Sometimes it’s because your Social Security number is attached to government records like taxes or criminal records, but most often it’s because the number is attached to your credit file.

The IRS adopted our Social Security numbers as identifiers for our tax files about 50 years or so ago. Around the same…

Read the full article at mcafee.com



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