The use of a false Social Security Number or card is a felony,[1]  punishable by a fine, and up to five years in prison.


People use false Social Security Numbers to:

  • open bank accounts,
  • get credit cards,
  • get a mortgage,
  • rent and buy vehicles,
  • to avoid reporting income,
  • to even assume the identity of another person; and
  • undocumented workers provide false Social Security Numbers on job applications.

Criminal charges may result from all of these uses.


Since 1936, they are the primary way that the United States government identifies people for certain benefits, and taxes.  But it should be understood that Social Security Numbers were never intended as identification numbers for all purposes; they are for the government to determine Social Security benefits and to report income to the IRS.

No one has a right to ask for your Social Security Number without a good reason. The only organizations that can require it are the IRS and the Social Security Administration.  Many entities can refuse to do business with you if you don’t provide it.

Most banks and financial institutions will not give loans or even open a bank account without getting it. Medical providers and other businesses may ask for it, but they are not entitled to it; they only want it so they can report you to credit bureaus if you don’t pay.

Read more here.