Many job seekers are concerned about providing their social security numbers when completing job applications. State laws vary on what information can be collected from applicants and most states don't prohibit companies from asking for social security numbers. However, you have the right to decide whether or not you feel comfortable giving out your SSN – just keep in mind that it may effect your chance of getting hired.
Why Employers Want Your SSN
Some employers (including state hiring agencies) require applicants to list their social security number when completing job applications. Employers may want your SSN to conduct a background check or credit check. However, several states have prohibited or limited the use of credit checks with job applicants. Most employers that do conduct these checks do not do so until you are further along in the hiring process than the initial application.
With the rise of identity theft, it makes sense to be wary of to whom you give your SSN. If the employer says giving your SSN is optional, you can simply choose not to give it. If it is required, you can still choose not to give your SSN. You can explain in your application that you do not feel comfortable giving them your SSN at this point in the job application process. However, keep in mind that if any job listing requires your SSN and you do not list it, your application may not be considered.
If giving your SSN is a required field on an online application, leaving the answer blank may not be an option. Before filling in your SSN, make sure you are on the company’s legitimate site. If you are applying for the job through a job search site, consider researching or calling the company before applying to confirm that the posting is legitimate.
Scammers often ask for social security numbers as part of a fake job application or as part of the hiring process for a job that doesn't exist. If an employer ever asks you to send them money as part of the application, chances are it is a scam. If an employer you have never worked with or never heard of gives you a check, it is likely also a scam. Tear up the check and cease communication with the company.
Definitely do not email your social security number to any prospective employer - or to anyone, in general. In fact, avoid sharing any personal information beyond your contact information. Do not include, for example, your driver’s license number and credit card information.
Before you give out your social security number, you need to be really careful about who you give it to and under what circumstances you disclose it. The Privacy Rights Clearing House has advice on how to carefully check out companies who request it and what you can do to protect your social security number online.
More Information: Privacy Rights Clearing House - My Social Security Number