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With society becoming more dependent on the Internet, many businesses require online job applications instead of traditional paper applications. Online applications are faster to fill out for many people and can be processed faster by employers. However, many applicants are worried about privacy issues regarding giving out information, including their Social Security number, online.
Social Security numbers were first issued in 1936 by the federal government. At the time, Social Security numbers were only used by federal programs to calculate retirement benefits. However, today Social Security numbers are considered one of the easiest ways to confirm a person's identity, as everyone's number is different.
Employers will sometimes ask for your Social Security number as a means of confirming your identity as an applicant. Employers will usually use your Social Security number to run a thorough background check on you to verify information provided on your application.
If an online application requires you to list your Social Security number, only do so if you are applying to a well-known, reputable company. Many online scams have been created by identity thieves seeking to steal your identity by collecting your Social Security number. However, if the application is to a nationwide chain store with a well-known reputation for example, it is likely okay to list your Social Security number. Make sure that you are applying to the real, legitimate company website and not to a secondary website that could potentially be operated by a scammer. Identify if the website is secure by looking at the URL for the web page. A secure URL should begin with "https" instead of the standard "http" found on most web pages. You should also see a "lock" icon somewhere within the web browser if the web page is legitimate. An unsecure website likely indicates a scam and it is unsafe for you to input your Social Security number.