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I know that a company in the US can ask for your SSN, and you may refuse just as they will refuse to employ you.

On the W-2 section of the SSA site, it states that IRS Pub 15 says:

“You should ask your employee to show you his or her social security card. The employee may show the card if it is available.”

If I am a US citizen with a Social Security Card and can and will provide the SSN to a US employer,

  1. are they violating any Federal laws by requiring me to allow them to retain a copy of it?
  2. Does it matter if they are private or funded by a Government?

I'm also interested in any State laws, but that would be incredibly broad.

I ask because I know the risks from an information security perspective, but I don't know how to translate it to a business perspective.

  • How is an image of your SSN card any less secure than a database record or a spreadsheet or any other document that contains your name and SSN? – phoog May 2 '16 at 23:48
  • The risk is greater if it's printed, but databases aren't. It also may be missed in data cleanup in the future. It's not inherently less secure. – Raystafarian May 3 '16 at 8:55
  • Some risks may be greater if it is printed, and database records of course can be printed. But some risks are greater if the record -- or the image -- is stored electronically. For example, if your employer has only printed copies of a social security number, you can be quite sure that nobody outside the office can get that number. But if the employer has an electronic document of any sort (database record, image, or other document), that is vulnerable to attack from anywhere in the world. – phoog May 3 '16 at 17:36
  • That's true, but it goes both ways - printed materials can be taken home or not shredded properly and databases can be segmented, but that's neither here nor there. My assumption is then - no there's no law or regulation being violated. – Raystafarian May 3 '16 at 17:39
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    As far as I know the only laws regulate who can ask for your SSN and why. I suppose there are also laws about privacy and information security but I doubt these specify that some ways of keeping the information are completely forbidden. – phoog May 3 '16 at 17:41

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