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Twice in the last week, I've heard this: "Your social?"

Only one of the two times was address to me. In both cases, the people in question - one in a department store dealing with a return on someone else's behalf and one in a bank - were asking for a social security number. I've never heard it worded this way before. Have you? Is it a recent development? Are social security numbers asked for on a more regular basis these days in the U.S. than they used to be?*

* They shouldn't be. They're not meant to be used mundanely. I figured my bank already has mine so I was willing to say, but it was still an unexpected way for them to look up my account number when I didn't have it handy.


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 5th, 2009 11:56 pm (UTC)
I've heard it phrased that way a lot, actually. I'm trying to think when I started hearing it - I think it's only been in the last five years or so, maybe less?
May. 5th, 2009 11:57 pm (UTC)
Maybe they were asking whether you're socially-inclined. "You're social? You like to party?" :)

When I lived in the U.S., I got this all the time. It's true that SSN's aren't meant to be used mundanely but they often are anyway. In fact, SSN's were used as student numbers where I went to grad school. Everybody hated it but nobody wanted to bother changing the entire system. Anyway, I heard "social" a lot more often than "SSN" in those days, so it's clearly not a recent thing. Maybe it's regional?
May. 6th, 2009 12:04 am (UTC)
How irritating, invasive, and insecure! Iowa briefly used SSNs as driver's license numbers before the state banned the practice as not a sensible use of the numbers.

Iowa was where both of these conversations occurred, but then it's also the state in which I'm mostly likely to have a financially-related conversation. I'd still swear I'd never heard it before until this week though.
(Deleted comment)
May. 6th, 2009 01:18 am (UTC)
Ditto here, about a zillion years ago. The nurse at the university clinic always referred to it as "your social."
May. 6th, 2009 12:37 am (UTC)
University of Wisconsin had to change their system of assigning student ID numbers because they were using SSN's
May. 6th, 2009 01:26 am (UTC)
The more I think about it, the funnier it becomes: asking "You're social?" and getting a string of numbers in response.

Thank you.
May. 6th, 2009 12:21 am (UTC)
Yes, they're increasingly used as a way to index identifiers. Which is really bad, actually.
May. 6th, 2009 01:02 am (UTC)
I've heard it for the last several years. I used to ask for socials regularly when I worked at the Agency, but never these days.
May. 6th, 2009 03:37 am (UTC)
Yeah, they do. At Macys, when I first worked there, if I needed it people had to give it to me, which I HATED! But then thank god they updated the system so that the customer could input it in the pin pad and I couldn't see a thing, which make me and them much more comfortable. So if you are putting it in a pinpad, it really is private, but if you have to tell it to them that is so bad.
May. 6th, 2009 08:03 am (UTC)
I'm not quite sure I ever actually worked out what a social security number is. I always assumed they were like our national insurance numbers, and nobody gives a damn who knows those!
May. 6th, 2009 10:21 am (UTC)
Never give it to them, or refuse to give anything but the last four numbers. This stupid trend is the reason why we have so much identity theft. I never, ever give it and they always then just ask for my phone number.
May. 6th, 2009 01:25 pm (UTC)
I think you can refuse to give your SS number, or, as said above, give only the last five digits. The only times I've given it recently is with my health plan and the state government, and with organizations that have it on file because it's in the system from long ago, such as a credit card company. But I *never* give it randomly. SS numbers have been stripped from U of Minnesota student documents, too.
May. 6th, 2009 03:55 pm (UTC)
All Swedish "personnr" are available online. They get used for absolutely everything. The first six digits are your dob so there's no trying to hide your age...
May. 7th, 2009 03:50 pm (UTC)
totally normal. Used to be used at most unis as ID till FERPA. Normally used at financial institutions and by people to whom you will owe money, e.g., doctors, the phone company, etc.

AFAICT, the latter places use software that masks all but the last 4 digits from the customer service reps, so they only ask for the last 4 digits as ID, and then only if you've forgotten your password.

But yeah, that's how most people refer to it anymore.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )