A FINRA-regulated institution is restricting my account on suspicion of identity theft and requiring that I give them a copy of my social security card which I of course don't have because what use does it even have? It has no photo or even date of birth or other identifying details so why would anyone even keep it?

Even the SSA itself suggests that it is useless and unimportant, that if you've lost it you probably don't even need to replace it. Furthermore you can even be prohibited from obtaining a replacement if you get too many in a year or your lifetime. What if you're past your quota?

In short, is it legal to require one to present their SSC as a precondition to accessing one's own funds? And corollary, are there any SEC/FINRA regulations that require an institution to demand one's SSC as identification?

  • Does this answer your question? Private companies asking for Social Security Number? Commented Jul 7, 2022 at 0:16
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    Clearly it does not answer or even ask the same question.
    – user6726
    Commented Jul 7, 2022 at 0:18
  • Yes @user6726, I agree. Thank you Commented Jul 7, 2022 at 10:26
  • The linked question is about use under HIPPA, and indeed specifically mentions use of a SSC benign forbidden by that act. This is about use by a financial institution under a quite different law. Not a dupe. Commented Jul 7, 2022 at 12:30
  • And not only that, but the question linked is actually about the social security number, not the card itself. Commented Jul 7, 2022 at 13:04

3 Answers 3


You have an unquestionable common law property right to what is in these accounts. An institution can make reasonable demands that you prove that you are the person entitled to that account. No aspect of Title 17 (SEC) requires the presentation of an SS card, nor does any part of Title 17 authorize an institution to deny a person's property rights because they do not present an SS card. The institution can make reasonable requirements for proof of identity, and 26 USC 6109 says what that means w.r.t. identifying numbers. Nothing therein say anything about a card w.r.t. connecting a person to a TIN. This can involve the institution submitting forms, see here. It is most likely that they have to submit form W-9 – I assume you have an SS number. That is the extent to which the brokerage company can legally delay you accessing your property.

  • Yes, I have a social security number which they required when I opened my account. Would it be legal for them to close my account in retaliation for my citing both the above mentioned statutes and my common law right to that property? This is a company that deceptively told me to hold while they "checked into my account" after I spoke for several minutes after informing them that I too was recording the call and would publish it online to show the world what the were doing if they weren't reasonable. After that she returned and just said that due to the call being recorded by me they would no Commented Jul 7, 2022 at 19:39
  • Longer be able to communicate with me by phone so they'd email me the information. Clearly they are allergic to anything that smells of accountability. Commented Jul 7, 2022 at 19:40
  • They are not obligated to speak to you by phone, or by email, so at this point you may have to lawyer up. Demands by certified mail are always a good idea, and threatening to record and disseminate is always a bad idea. There is nothing statutory that prevents them from "closing your account", but they are not authorized to seize or liquidate your holdings (as I say, lawyer time). Your agreement with the firm may address the question of whether they are contractually enabled to close the account.
    – user6726
    Commented Jul 7, 2022 at 20:13
  • All excellent advice, but a couple of questions: on what basis do you say that threatening to record and disseminate is a bad idea? Commented Jul 7, 2022 at 20:56
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    @Joseph P. While there is a common-law right to withdraw bank deposits, the more relevant law is I think the Uniform commercial code Article 4 and Feder Reserver Regulation CC, available in 12 CFR 229 subpart B Commented Jul 9, 2022 at 0:22

Many financial institutions have to withhold taxes on the customer's behalf or at least notify the federal government of transactions like interest payments. To do that they need the customer's SSN or tax payer id and they are authorized to require that information. It isn't so much for ID purposes as making sure the info gets to the right tax account. If they suspect you of identity theft they may need some sort of documentary evidence of your SSN or taxpayer id rather than just your say so

As trivial as it seems, a social security card is legal proof of your SSN

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    However, there is no law / regulation that requires presentation of an SS card to satisfy the requirement to supply an SS number. So the question is whether an institution can deprive you of access to your property if you don't supply a particular document, which is not required by law. It is unlikely that they could deprive a person of their property over a questionable contractual technicality.
    – user6726
    Commented Jul 7, 2022 at 17:10
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    From the advice by the SSA: "A Social Security card is legal proof of an SSN. In most cases, the actual card is not necessary but, if your agency or organization requires proof, and the person can’t produce a card, there are other documents that show their SSN. If other documents are not available, that person will need a replacement card." Commented Jul 7, 2022 at 17:12
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    It's not stated in the original question whether other documents are available. It's also worth noting a question of possible identity theft has been raised, so technicalities are going to be important. Commented Jul 7, 2022 at 17:18
  • Please, please, you two gentlemen duke (or hash) this one out as fully as you're able! This is causing massive problems for me and I need to know what options are available because many courses of action might not be feasible when I pursue them and I won't necessarily know for weeks or months. For the record, I have much other proof of identity, like birth cert and others. Just not SSC. Yes, I believe the institution will claim that technicalities are very important. Also, to clarify, I have many other documents that might be much harder to forge than a lousy/flimsy social security card. Commented Jul 7, 2022 at 19:36
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    @JosephP. Is there a reason that obtaining a replacement card is particularly onerous? I've done it before for myself and for one of my kids and it wasn't that big of a deal.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Jul 7, 2022 at 23:21

No. My social security card said on its face: Not to be used for identification.

I note, however, that I haven't seen my card for decades. I think more recent cards lack that note.


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