While I am here, I opened an account to a popular Bank of the United States, where some money are being deposited now and then. When I opened the account (I asked for the simplest and minimum one), I was told that I should bring to them the Social Security Number, when I was going to get one (I am not even sure why I need that number, but anyway, I just got it).

The thing is that I heard that I should NOT expose that number to others as much as possible. So..should I give to the bank?

Note that my bank account is already functioning properly and I am not interested in getting extra functionality.

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    @pnuts I don't believe it, missed that part, I should NOT! – gsamaras Jul 28 '16 at 1:40
  • What visa did you enter the USA with? Sharing or not sharing your SSN with the bank will impact how they withhold taxes on interest etc. – nikhil Jul 28 '16 at 2:00
  • J-1 visa @nikhil. What do you mean? – gsamaras Jul 28 '16 at 2:17
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    Since you are in the US on a long-term work visa, and this question will only apply to people working in the US (you don't get an SSN otherwise), this question is better for Expatriates.SE. Flagged for migration. – Nate Eldredge Jul 28 '16 at 4:25
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    That's what I felt when posting, I mean it's a trip, except from the fact that in weekdays before night I do some work :) – gsamaras Aug 1 '16 at 1:30

Yes, this has been standard procedure for banking in the US since about 2002. Don't worry; just make sure your bank is FDIC accredited.

Recent US laws require Social Security Numbers. Basic Source

Patriot Act

Bank Secrecy Act

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  • FDIC means that if the bank closes, my money will be protected? It's a big bank, so I don't think I will have to fear that for now. – gsamaras Jul 28 '16 at 2:20
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    Yes, that right. More importantly, if it is FDIC, you know it is a real bank and not a scam. – axsvl77 Jul 28 '16 at 4:12

While you should not expose your Social Security Number (SSN) unnecessarily (as it, along with other information about you, can be used to commit identity theft), various people do need it from you, including:

  • The government. Especially the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) (the federal tax agency), and state tax agencies.
  • Financial institutions. It is used to verify your identity and for compliance with banking laws. If they do not have your SSN, they may be required to withhold extra money for taxes (backup withholding).
  • Anybody running a credit check on you, such as if you applying for a credit card, applying for certain jobs, and sometimes even renting an apartment (this should not happen without your permission, but it is a requirement with some landlords).
  • Employers. This is to report the wages you earn to the government for tax purposes.

In any such case, you should be careful to ensure you are dealing with a reputable, official organization and not a scam. It is unfortunate that you sometimes must give your SSN to people you don't necessarily trust to keep it secure (prospective employers and landlords especially), but that's the reality of the system at this point, and there's generally not much of an alternative.

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  • Thanks for the detailed answer, I accepted the other, because it was on point and came first. :) – gsamaras Jul 28 '16 at 5:31
  • Sure thing. That's a helpful answer too. – Zach Lipton Jul 28 '16 at 5:34

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