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February 16, 2011 - Jodelle Greiner
I wanted to close out an old bank account, so I called the 800 number on the last statement I received, because I had forgotten all the information the bank had told me they needed from me to close out the account when I last talked to them before I moved.
I told the woman who answered the phone that all I wanted was to know the information I needed to send the bank.
First she asked me my name, which I gave. She asked for my account number. I hesitated, but gave that, too. Then she wanted the last four digits of my Social Security number and my birthdate.
My birthdate I don’t mind giving out, but I balked at giving out any portion of my Social Security number over the phone. I said, “All I want to know is the information I need to send them to close my account.”
She said she needed all that information from me before she could answer my question.
If I was asking for specific information, like I’d forgotten my account number and was asking her what it was, I could see all the questions, but all I wanted her to tell me was what questions I would have to answer for the bank. I saw absolutely no reason they needed all that information about me just to answer a simple question that the bank had already answered — and I saw absolutely no reason to give my Social Security number, even part of it, to someone over the phone.
I solved the problem by calling the bank directly and asking for the information I needed. The gal I talked to told me everything I needed to know without playing twenty questions. I guess you just have to eliminate the middleman.
When I was a kid, we were always told to NEVER tell ANYONE what our Social Security number was. The only time you needed it was for taxes; it was just between you and the government. Nowadays, they want your Social Security number for everything from applying to college to getting loans to renting. About the only thing you don’t have to give it out for is buying groceries and gas — but that’s probably coming soon, too.
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