How to Protect Your Identity: Stop Giving Out the Last 4 Numbers of your Social Security Number

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protect identityI’ve always had a problem with financial companies asking me for my personal information. I’ve always done my best to get around giving information like my social security number as a means of verifying who I am when on the phone with any financial institution. This weekend I had a realization about protecting your identity and it relates to something many people do every day: Stop giving out the last 4 digits of your social security number!

The whole point of companies asking for the last 4 numbers of your social security number is to protect you and your identity.

The irony of this is that the last 4 numbers of your social security number have now come to replace the entire number (9 digits). If all it takes is those 4 numbers to fully access, modify, or alter a financial account, then isn’t giving those 4 digits out the same thing as giving the entire number out?

I never give that information out and urge you to do the same.

When the logic behind our account “security” makes no sense whatsoever, isn’t it time to make a change?

About Author

Joshua Dorkin

Joshua Dorkin is a serial entrepreneur, investor, podcaster, publisher, educator, and co-author of How to Invest in Real Estate. He started BiggerPockets to help democratize the real estate investing landscape for himself and others, aiming to make it accessible for everyone, regardless of income or education. Today, BiggerPockets is the premier real estate investing website online with over one million members and reaching over 70 million people with the message of financial freedom through real estate investing. Joshua, along with his wife and three daughters, make their home in Denver, Colorado, and spend any time they can traveling, exploring, and adventuring. Read more about Joshua’s story in 5280 and


  1. If it someone who wants the number, but is not using it to verify my ID, such as the doctors office, a drug screening company, etc, what I do is give them a fake SSN so they are satisfied. If my SSN is stolen, it wont work with my name (like if they tried to apply for benefits, posing as me with my name, but using my fake SSN).

    How I do I remember the fake SSN I use at different places?
    1) I use the same fake SSN each place, each time.
    2) I simply increase each number of my real SSN by one digit.
    Example: if my real SSN is
    038-51-2647, I write down

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