Finding Someone's Social Security Number -- What's OK and What's Not?
Updated on June 18, 2018
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It’s one of the most precious pieces of information you have — your Social Security number. If someone steals it, they can steal your entire identity, run up thousands of dollars in fraudulent bills, and turn your life into a complete nightmare.
So you’re probably surprised to hear that it’s actually legal to use an SSN finder!
But don’t panic — just because there are services that can find someone’s Social Security number doesn’t mean that every random stranger on the internet can find yours. In fact, a legitimate, legal search for someone’s Social Security number can only be done in very limited cases. And, the person asking for the number will have to jump through some hoops before they can get it.
When would it be OK for you to search for someone’s Social Security number?
– If the person is part of a civil or criminal investigation, and you can prove that their Social Security number is a vital part of the case.
– If the person owes you money — like if he hasn’t been paying his child support, if he’s evading your debt collection efforts, or if you successfully sued him and he hasn’t paid his judgment.
– If you’re dealing with a defendant in a court case who’s claiming that he can’t be present because he’s on active military duty. A surefire way to verify his military status is to use his Social Security number. The court will use it to see what branch the defendant is in and what his start and stop days are.
– If one of your employees has not given you his Social Security number and you need to file a 1099. Without his Social Security number, the 1099 you file will be deemed incorrect, and the IRS will fine you $50 for each incorrect filing. Since you certainly don’t want to be in that position, you’ll be forced to hire someone to find the employee’s Social Security number.
– If the person’s Social Security number is needed as part of efforts to collect a debt.
– If the person’s Social Security number is needed in conjunction with official government business.
As you can see, these are very specific circumstances. Because they’re so narrow, it’s impossible for anyone to expand them and legally search for a Social Security number. For example, a prospective employer has no right to find your Social Security number behind your back as part of the hiring process.
In fact, finding Social Security numbers is so tightly-regulated that you can’t even search for your own! You won’t be able to search for your minor child’s Social Security number either.
OK, so you’ve determined that you have a legitimate, legal reason for finding someone’s Social Security number. What do you do next?
Find a reputable company to handle the search. Forget the fancy sales copy you see floating around online. The ONLY way to legally find someone’s Social Security number is to pay a licensed private investigator to do it, because licensed investigators have access to information that’s normally just reserved for law enforcement. There is NO free lookup service that can get a Social Security number for you!
Once you find the right investigator, he’ll get the ball rolling by asking you a few basic questions. First, is the person in question over the age of twenty-one? If not, he won’t be able to complete the search. In order to run a search, your investigator will also need the full name of the person in question, his last known address, and his approximate age. (Bonus points if you have his full date of birth!)
Once your investigator has verified that he can physically search for the Social Security number in question, he’ll have a few more questions for you. After all, Social Security numbers are highly sensitive, so if you can’t prove that you really need it, the investigator will likely refuse to do the work for you.
What kind of proof do you need?
If you’re an employer who’s trying to fill out a 1099, give your investigator copies of the checks that you’ve sent to your employee. They’ll prove that this person really has done work for you. Or, if you’re not receiving your child support, give your investigator a copy of the court order that obligates him to pay it. The same goes for a legal judgment that you’re entitled to.
OK, so you’ve jumped through all of the hoops successfully. How long will it take for a good investigator to find the Social Security number in question?
Less time than you might think! Here at Docusearch, we can dig into our resources and find someone’s Social Security number within one business day, normally an hour or two. It’s the easiest and most secure way to get the information you so desperately need. Try our Find Social Security Number Search today.