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SSN and security

Was: “Whether or not to get a tax id”

Hello Orchidland,

John Sexton’s discussion reminded me of an interesting situation. In
the U.S.A. employers collect with-holding and pay social security
taxes to the federal government - obviously every employee’s SSN is
on file with the payroll department.

In this telling, the payroll clerk in a law firm had applied for a
credit card using his/her name and billing address, but using one of
the lawyer’s salary (& SSN) to support financial credibility. From
that point on, the credit card bought all sorts of luxury items, the
bill was delivered to the clerk’s home address, and the clerk paid
the minimum required each month. The fraud was not discovered until
the lawyer was qualifying for a home mortgage, and was turned down
due the huge amount of credit card debt revealed by the credit check.

Whether the story is true or not (and I’m someone will pipe up if it
is not), it’s an unexpected type of identity theft.

Judy in Kansas, who is becoming paranoid now

A really unpleasant situation, BUT although it would be a hassle to
work out, the lawyer whose identity was used would not be liable for
the things purchased by the fraudulent holder.

Someone did something MORE surprising to me a couple of years ago
(after my wallet was stolen): they wrote a check TO ME and deposited
that check in my account, and in the process of the deposit got the
teller to give them the account number (I suppose he or she was
off-guard because it was a deposit, not a withdrawal) and then went
to another branch and started withdrawing money from my account. Of
course, if the bank had followed its own procedures - making the
person give a PIN number - this would not have happened.