[Previous entry: "Prepaid ISP service not so private"] [Main Index] [Next entry: "RAVE Act: Legislating away both fun and free speech"]

06/12/2003 Archived Entry: "An SSN privacy tip from Gary Marbut"

I PROMISED I'D SHARE PRIVACY TIPS GARY MARBUT GAVE ME while I was happily stranded on his glorious mountaintop after the Grand Western Conference of the Free State Project. Here's one.

You know how businesses will sometimes ask your SSN when they have no real "need to know"? For instance, when you're cashing a check or filling out some form that's only going to be used should you abscond with a library book. I've always either refused or taken advantage of my (genuine) numeric dyslexia at such moments. But Gary, who prefers not to be dyslexic and who doesn't like to see clerks get that "slapped in the face look" when he refuses, came up with something clever.

When a clerk asks for his SSN, he politely explains that he won't give them that, but he can, instead, give them his "personal ID number." At that moment, he whips out a business card he created in his computer. Printed on it, looking very official, is "Personal ID: 322-24-8536." The happy little clerks copy it down, satisfied with any number that looks so official.

Gary generates the number at random, changes it from time to time, and makes no attempt to ensure that he's not using someone's SSN (after all, since it's NOT and since he never CLAIMS it's an SSN, it shouldn't matter).

You can also generate a null number never used by the Social Security Administration if you prefer. Or, if you want to be sure the number actually DOES match an issued SSN, you can download this software, used by state governments to check.

Posted by Claire @ 10:43 AM CST

Powered By Greymatter