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 (@jrdorkin, Google+) founded when he saw a need for free, trustworthy information about real estate investing online. Over the past 12 years, Josh has grown the site from self-funded hobby to full-time job and passion. Today, BiggerPockets brings together over 850,000 members, housing the world’s largest library of real estate content, iTunes’ #1 real estate podcast, and an array of analysis tools, all geared toward helping users succeed.


  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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