How To Get Utilities And Phone Service Without Giving Up Your SSN

As several readers discussed in yesterday’s post, utility, phone, and cable companies usually require your Social Security number in order to perform a credit check before activating service. You don’t have to provide it, but they don’t have to extend their services to you either. Here’s one reader’s explanation of how he was able to turn on water, electricity, gas, and an AT&T land line without turning over his SSN.

Today I ordered 4 utilities without giving my SSN to any of them, and the last 1 of the 4 was AT&T. I asked nicely to not give it. When the CSR ask for my SSN I said “gosh, I really don’ t like giving out my SSN, is there a way I can get your product (the specific gas, electricity, tele. service) without giving my SSN.” The gas and electricity will do a deposit – spread out over 4 months and after 9 months of consecutive payments I get my deposit back. When I asked AT&T I got the following “We need it in case you don’t pay and we need to find you, and you need it to give your SSN to get any utility.” I countered with ‘I’ve just got water, electricity and gas TODAY without giving my SSN.’ The CSR relented and then asked for my birth date. I got a local service land line from AT&T without giving my SSN.

The takeaway: if you’re willing to leave a security deposit, some companies may accept that instead of your SSN. And it never hurts to ask—if the CSR won’t budge, you might try calling back at another time to see if you find someone who’s more willing work with you.

(Thanks to Jess!)
(Photo: Beige Alert)

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. zigziggityzoo says:

    Worked for me with DTE Energy 3 years ago. Never missed a payment, and so far they’ve never missed my SSN.

  2. silver-bolt says:

    Unlike telephone and cable, Water, Gas and Electric companies DO have to extend service to you unless you really did something wrong. Its a necessity. Other companies don’t have to cater to anyone that arn’t profitable. Necessities/Utilities do.

    • Teradoc says:

      Not necessarily, I am a CSR at a major Midwest electric company. We can refuse service for someone who refuses to give us a ssn. We only use it to verify they are not already in the system (And owing us a lot of money) and to verify who they are with a LexusNexus search of public records.

      What you say almost sounds like some of the customers I deal with. “You can’t disconnect me (even though I owe $2000+ dollars). I have kids in the house!”
      Me: “Well I am sorry, but there is nothing in the tariff with the state that says kids = free electricity.”

  3. They can get it anyway.

    Sorry to throw that in.

  4. Pylon83 says:

    I don’t understand why people are so scared to give up their SSN to companies with whom they are going to do business. They have a completely legitimate reason for demanding it, and the reasons for not giving it up are generally unpersuasive and alarmist. I’m not one of the “just show your receipt” kind of people, but I also don’t balk at a reasonable request of a company that will essentially be extending me credit or giving me an expensive piece of equipment. When people get away without giving their SSN, and subsequently don’t pay their bills, it results in an inability to easily collect and ultimately in higher prices for everyone to cover the bad debt of a few.

    • BuddyGuyMontag says:

      @Pylon83: Answer: People like to complain. Although I can see the issue of not giving up your SSN over a chat with Comcast yesterday, I don’t see the issue since they have to run a credit check.

      I wouldn’t give up my SSN for gyms, video stores, etc, but I do see the reason here.

    • Jubilance22 says:

      @Pylon83: Considering that millions of people have to deal with identity theft, I don’t think its unreasonable that some folks are gunshy about giving out their SSN. Security breaches happen all the time and I don’t think utility companies are immune from being hacked or simply giving out the wrong info to the wrong people.

      I fully support the idea of paying a deposit in lieu of giving my SSN to whoever claims they need it.

    • iotashan says:

      @Pylon83: It’s really simple. Just google the phrase “customers personal information” and look at all the unique stories about companies being careless with whatever information you give them.

      Let’s forget about incompetence. Think of all the companies that outsource their customer service to extremely-low-wage countries. Think about how tempting it’d be for any of those people to swipe some SSN’s and sell them.

      There are plenty of reasons NOT to hand out the information, and very few reasons why you should.

      • Pylon83 says:

        @iotashan:
        There are plenty of reasons not to give people your name or address as well. Again, I’m not advocating a free for all on giving out SSNs, but when the company has a legitimate reason for demanding it and does so in a reasonable manner (e.g., not over the internet), I don’t think there is any reason not to provide it. Yes, identity theft happens. So does robbery and grand theft auto. You can do things to prevent it, such as not giving your social to just anyone who asks, and by ensuring it’s transmitted in a reasonably secure fashion when you do, but to simply refuse a reasonable and legitimate request for it should be grounds for refusal of ANY service, including necessary public utilities.

      • Nick1693 says:

        @iotashan: “Just google the phrase “customers personal information” and look at all the unique stories about companies being careless with whatever information you give them.”

        You could use the consumerist search and there’s way too much…

    • RevRagnarok says:

      @Pylon83: I’m now enrolled in two years of credit protection because some genius at BNY Mellon decided to put their unencrypted backup tapes in an unlocked car in a bank “cash bag.” Yes, most likely a crime of opportunity with no results in stolen IDs; it’s more likely a crack-head looking for cash. If they know what it is, they have over 40K peoples’ data on those tapes!

      In summary, I do my best to avoid letting anybody get the info – but when it’s the company that does your company’s 401(k), there’s not much else you can do!

    • xwildebeestx says:

      @Pylon83: I don’t think you should have to give your SSN or submit to a credit check for anything that’s not extending you a line of credit AND reporting to the credit agencies. So, that means “No” on cell phones, home phones, utilities, etc.

      • Pylon83 says:

        @xwildebeestx:
        Why are they not entitled to check your credit when they are extending you credit, or service on a post-pay basis. What does reporting it to the credit agencies have to do with it?

      • EricLecarde says:

        @xwildebeestx: Well thats the thing, most are extending to you a line of credit.

        Cable Companies give credit to a customer so they can order Pay per view movies. Phone companies extend credit to a customer so they can make long distance charge calls if they don’t have a long distance plan. A few telecomm companies (Time Warner) even restrict the service level you are able to get if you have a low credit score. This is to ensure that they do not extend a service to you that you have a record of abusing or not paying back.

    • Lucky225 says:

      @Pylon83:

      Because it’s not required, and isn’t even needed if the customer runs out on a debt they still have the customers name, WHERE THEY LIVE, and date of birth, that is enough to put the bad mark on the credit report. Not to mention NOT EVERYONE HAS AN SSN — AND *NO* I’M NOT TALKING ABOUT ILLEGALS, I’m talking about US CITIZENS who have NOT applied for an SSN for religious reasons and people here legally on j1 visas.

  5. BuddyGuyMontag says:

    I use a credit monitoring service, so I can’t see the logic in paying a deposit vs. giving up your SSN. Has there been a lot of data leaks from utilities and such?

    • racordes says:

      @BuddyGuyMontag: @Pylon83:
      One reason people don’t want to give their SS numbers to legitimate businesses is that sometimes(gasp!)dishonest people work at those businesses. I personally know 2 people who had their SS numbers stolen by employees of legitimate businesses. Those numbers were used to set up accounts and purchase thousands of dollars of stuff.
      People who use stolen SS numbers don’t pay their bills and are impossible to collect from. And the person with the stolen identity has to deal with the mess of bill collectors and ruined credit ratings.

      • Pylon83 says:

        @racordes:
        But you are also taking a risk by giving them your address, phone number, full name and letting their technician into your home. Personally I’m more bothered by having a stranger in my house than giving Comcast my SSN.

        • Rectilinear Propagation says:

          @Pylon83: Name, address, phone number, SSN: If push comes to shove all but one of those things can be changed. The risk of giving out publicly available information is not as great as giving out your SSN.

          As far as letting strangers in your house you aren’t required to be alone and helpless when they show up.

  6. 310Drew says:

    Any individual can also register for a sole proprieter tax id for free at irs.gov

    I use that number quite often.

  7. pdxguy says:

    I used to tell them I was Canadian. That always threw them for a loop but I got whatever service I was signing up for.

    • Yurei says:

      @pdxguy:
      Haha!

      Too bad the Canadians have SSN’s too. I’m dating one, and he has one- I think the formatting is just different from the US ones. Kind of like their zipcodes-6 digits with numbers AND letters? Crazy canadians! Next thing you know they’ll be using metric.

      oh wait, that’s right, they already do :P

    • GreatWhiteNorth says:

      @pdxguy: Gosh golly up here in Canada I tried telling them I was from the US and that didn’t help much at all.

      … by the way I loved traveling the pacific rim when Gulf War 1 started… overnight Canadian flags grew on backpacks everywhere… but on talking to some of these fellow travelers it was obvious they weren’t Canadian.

      Be proud of who you are and considerate of who everyone else is… and hey, want to go parapenting on the south island NZ?

  8. balthisar says:

    I can’t think of the last time I gave my SSN with any utility, or a deposit for that matter.

    Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need an SSN to get a copy of a credit report. Heck, it shouldn’t be popular belief, because we all know that we shouldn’t leave our drivers license with the car dealer during a test drive, because he’ll pull your credit report. No SSN on there (at least in my state).

    On the same note, it’s not impossible to commit credit fraud without an SSN, either.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      Heck, it shouldn’t be popular belief, because we all know that we shouldn’t leave our drivers license with the car dealer during a test drive, because he’ll pull your credit report.
      @balthisar: Wait, what?

      You mean car dealers tell you to go driving off in one of their vehicles without a driver’s license? Seriously?

      • balthisar says:

        @Rectilinear Propagation: Well, yeah. The chances of being pulled over are next to nothing unless you deserve it, and if you know your drivers license number, it’s no big deal, and if you don’t and are unlucky, it’s not a major infraction.

        Some dealers will photocopy your license and give yours back, but the information’s the same.

        • redkamel says:

          @balthisar: how do you get to test drive without leaving your license?

          • Orv says:

            @redkamel: I don’t usually buy cars from dealers, but last time I did a test drive they photocopied my license and then gave it back to me.

            This might vary from state to state or dealer to dealer. I suspect the dealer’s insurance company has a hand in it.

      • godlyfrog says:

        @RevRagnarok: Excellent… now I have the first number of your SSN, the other 8 will eventually fall into place… mwahaha.

        What’s funny is that a security guy at my job was telling me that so many places simply ask for the last four digits of your SSN nowadays as a way to prevent your entire SSN from being compromised, that identity thieves only need the last four to get in to most systems. So, ironically, by asking for the last four digits as a security measure, they’ve actually compromised the concept by making it easier to crack.

  9. Jackasimov says:

    I’ve just been debating giving my SS# to Dish Network to sign up. My wife gave it to them once already but because the tech didn’t do the install (it was too hard for him to fish a wire through an unobstructed ceiling space for 5 feet, the poor baby) we didn’t end up with the service.

    They called us a week later to ask why we didn’t have service yet. We explained, they said they’d take care of it but needed an SS#. We told them we already gave it, to which they replied “but we don’t keep them, so we don’t have it anymore”. So, how can this offer them security for non-payment if they don’t keep the numbers?

    I asked to have the call escalated since I was getting tired of the CSR’s inability to explain why they needed it, he put me on hold. After about 5 minutes I hung up. It’s been a week. Guess they don’t like money. Bye-bye Dish.

  10. smurph0404 says:

    I understand the principal of not having to give out you SSN but I would personally rather give comcast my number than a security deposit. With my dealings with them in the past, I would not expect to ever see that money again.

  11. Banned in DC says:

    So this really doesn’t have to do with 9/11 and the Patriot Act? I’m shocked…

  12. anibundel says:

    I find the hysteria over SSN numbers hilarious. It wasn’t even five years ago that my VA Driver’s License Number was my SSN, displayed for everyone to see. It was also my student ID number in both high school and college. In fact, until the DMV forced me to change my DL number last time I renewed, I had always thought of it as my Citizen Identification Number….

    • Sidecutter says:

      @anibundel: Except that your SSN is NOT your ID number. In fact, your SS paperrs clearly state that this number is NOT to be used as identification. The government needs to crack down on that concept.

    • Aladdyn says:

      @anibundel: Hopefully you will never have to deal with having your identity stolen, its highly unlikely you would still find easy access to SS#s hilarious.

    • Jackasimov says:

      @anibundel: I think you not only misunderstand the definition of the word hysteria but probably of hilarious as well. At least as far as their relevance to this thread and article are concerned.

      Discussion ≠ hysteria
      Confusing to my sensibilities ≠ hilarious

      Sorry you don’t agree with the concept of protecting one’s identity from fraud. Maybe you don’t consider yourself to have an identity worth thieving?

      I’d call that a pretty dismissive attitude since there were nearly 8 million cases of ID theft last year in the US.

      Hysterical.

    • RevRagnarok says:

      @anibundel: Yeah, my college did that too. Couldn’t eat in the cafeteria the first week because the computer was dropping the leading 0 and then saying the number was too short. Brilliant!

      We were issued new student IDs. The mag stripe had the SSN still, with a leading 9. Problem “solved.”

    • Lucky225 says:

      @anibundel:
      Times have changed, thus 5 years later it is *NOT* your DL#

  13. veronykah says:

    I find it funny that they use this to supposedly “find” you but I moved into an apartment with a new roommate. The gas bill was in someone else’s name and consequently turned off. When I inquired to the gas company about how to get our gas turned back on they told us we had to pay the entire balance due, even though the bill was still in a roommates name that neither of us had lived with.
    I understood the premise of paying for what WE had used but it hadn’t been paid in longer than either of us had lived here.
    When I asked the gas company if it was then possible for me to put the bill in my name, use as much gas as possible, then skip town and not pay it even though my NAME is on the bill and the company has my info they said yes.
    Seems kind of pointeless to provide info for no reason.

    • econobiker says:

      @veronykah:
      That was an old stand by for graduating foreign students in college towns. Run up the last bills, apply for store credit cards and max them out and then ship back to home country with lots of stuff.

  14. linoth says:

    Just throwing this out. An elective phone company I worked for asked for a SSN for credit check (we were honest about that) and if refused, had to place the account on auto-pay via a credit card under our policy. Once you had satisfied the head of collections’ that you weren’t a credit risk, you could be placed on invoice billing. We didn’t tell that to customers unless pressured though, and I’m not kidding with that vague criteria. It pretty much had everything to do with his mood and whether or not you were being difficult.

  15. mantari says:

    I thought phone companies want your SSN so that homeland security could track you easier? Even for prepaid contract services, they still want it.

  16. Suulia says:

    With Comcast you can bypass giving out any social security/driver license/birth date info by agreeing to a deposit that is held after 6 months of on time payments and then refunded.

  17. thenameisbam says:

    i signed up for ATT online without a SSN, they just required my driver’s license #. now if only i could get my customer # without having to wait for my first bill.

  18. jojo319 says:

    i keep seeing hearing comments about the “millions” who are victims of identity theft every year. i still have never met a single person this has happened to. Are these statements accurate? or are they just trying to scare people into buying extra services. Sort of like second hand smoke. Every one knows it’s bad for you, but the studies that “prove” it are all B.S.

    • Pylon83 says:

      @jojo319:
      A lot of it is huff and puff to get people to buy insurance and credit report monitoring, etc. While I don’t have any statistics to site, I imagine it’s actually very rare. I think in some cases “identity theft” is given a VERY broad definition, to include the use of stolen credit cards, etc. I don’t know a single person who has actually had their identity “Stolen” in the sense of someone using their SSN to open credit cards, take out loans, etc. It’s not quite a conspiracy theory, but it’s treated like one by some of the loons out there who need something to obsess over.

      • econobiker says:

        @Pylon83:

        ‘”millions” who are victims of identity theft every year’

        That is the actual number of individual records that are compromised not the actual people who experience identity theft. Truth is that, until recent network security lapses, most identity theft is by persons known to the victim- the son who steals his fathers ID to purchase a car, the woman who rips off her elderly aunt’s id to purchase electronics to resell for drugs,the parents who use their childrens IDs because they are already bankrupt, etc…

    • Jubilance22 says:

      @jojo319: I’m one of those folks who have been a victim. I have a minimum of 5 friends that I know of that have been a victim of identity theft.

    • saccade says:

      @jojo319: I’ve had my SSN stolen, or somehow used by someone else. When I tried to open my first bank account they told me that it didn’t match my ID card I provided. After complaining mightily, the bank told me I needed to prove that I wasn’t Anastasia Sanchez of LA, CA. A trip to the SSN Admin cleared *that* issue up and the bank let me use the SSN Admin’s stamped printout to open the account.

      It’s been a nightmare for the last seven years dealing with this. Every time I open an account, with ANYONE, I am greeted by a manager with a mean tone and/or angry look. One job I had payed with WaMu checks, and I thought, I’ll just open an account there–it’ll be easier that way. Well, Anastasia had an account (in LA) at WaMu with my social before I tired to open my account. The manager was called over, and I was asked what I was trying to pull and even asked if she needed to call the police, or if I would “just go peacefully.” I’ve been to several WaMu branches but none have helped. I brought: 1) my drivers license 2) my birth certificate 3) my Passport 4) the SSN Admin’s letter that worked for my first bank 5) a notarized affidavit stating I was me, didn’t know Anastasia and had never lived outside of Nevada. None of these documents were enough for WaMu to even investigate “my” account.

      This is the worst example, but I run into this with varying degrees every time I am asked for my SSN. The SSN Admin doesn’t care about this issue however. I have been told over and over again there is nothing they can do and that I should put a fraud watch on my credit files. But what good does that do when Anastasia decides she needs anything from WaMu, and defaults? Or has my social on her drivers license when runs over a little girl of sue-happy parents? I’ve been in the mortgage industry since before there was such a thing as a CDO or neg-am loan and I assure you, I’ve seen things just as strange and horrid.

      Eight million may be high, but there might be another eight that don’t open bank accounts since they have one, and use it religiously. I shouldn’t have to worry every time I renew my license, or call to get Dish service. “What has Anastasia done? Has she been a good girl? ‘Sir, I’ve pulled your credit and every thing looks good.’ Another day, another bullet dodged.”

  19. deadandy says:

    I might add that in some cases, you might actually be hurting yourself if you have good credit and fail to turn over your SSN. Some service companies might provide lower rates for those with good credit.

  20. econobiker says:

    The same reason that doctor’s offices ask for contact information. Not incase you are sick but incase they have to persue you for the bill…

  21. vastrightwing says:

    My strategy to get what I want is to be polite and chat with the CSR: ask how they are doing, where they are, etc. I try to make the CSR understand my position and make them empathetic. If it looks like we’re in a deadlock (ie: they don’t see things my way), I simply tell the CSR we are in a dead lock and I will call someone else. I will call back and get a different person. Most of the time, this works just fine. Just be prepared to take the time.

    The way I see it, we live in a society where most things are geared to the lowest common denominator. CSRs rarely are given the chance to think on their own. They get beat up by angry customers so even when they do have latitude, they won’t willingly give you a break if they don’t like you.

    JoJo: when you see a statement like “millions” are affected, remember, that a million people is less than 1% of the population. It’s insignificant (unless it’s you).

  22. LSonnenhimmer says:

    Its true, name address and birthday hits your credit file just like your SSN.

  23. intellivised says:

    Actually – I think telcos do have to supply at least service access regardless, there is something called a “Common Carrier” or universal service law. I learned about it in a telecom law class waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back when I was a freshman, and this was followed by a whole discussion on “these new fangled cellphones”.

    uphill both ways snow etc

  24. gamabunta says:

    I remember a post about a year back on here saying they utility companies do have to provide you service regardless of prior history/refusal to give SSN if they have a monopoly on services in your area.

    • Pylon83 says:

      @gamabunta:
      I imagine that it depends on the state, and possibly even the county/city and the tariff that they have with the company. I imagine there is a point at which they can simply refuse service.

  25. joemawlma says:

    How about this excuse?

    I may be mistaken, but doesn’t it ding your credit each time it is checked?

    If that’s true just tell them you have perfect credit and you don’t want a ding because some company needs to check on you to determine if you’ll pay on time. Try to act insulted and turn them into an enemy for trying to ruin your credit score with their “needless credit checks.”

    “Your check of my credit is going to result in my interest rate being higher when I refinance my house in the near future! 30 years at a slightly higher interest rate is THOUSANDS of dollars lost!”

  26. Heartless says:

    Most of the time a lot of utilities charge a month in advance when you sign up for service. So they’re not actually extending anything post-pay.

  27. There are, obviously, different stages of ‘pecking order’ when it comes to agencies (local, county, state & federal).

    Since my SSN was issued to me by a FEDERAL agency, i simply refuse to give out my number to another ‘agency’, without having them prove their jurisdiction for needing the number – and obviously – just some dork on a phoneline or at a window saying so, isn’t proof.

    They hate it. To which i counter with “Hey, it’s issued by a FEDERAL agency. They’ve told me themselves that i am NOT required by any other agency to show it – because it isn’t to be used for identification purposes.
    Show me you have AUTHORIZED JURISDICTION
    Another point (which sadly, has gone the way of the dinosaurs);
    when i was 9 years old or so, i had to sign my SS card.
    Right on the front of it – in red letters – plainly visible, were the words;

    “Not to be used for identification purposes”

  28. Lucky225 says:

    Also, in California Utilities can not by rule require an SSN and you can report them to the PUC. Here is one case the PUC ruled on:

    The Commission recognized that a carrier does not need a customer’s social security number to obtain a copy of his or her credit report in Lewis v. Cellular One Communications. In Lewis, a customer filed a complaint against SB Cellular because it required him to give his social security number to initiate service.

    His only alternative to giving his social security number was to pay a $1,000 security deposit. Although the Commission dismissed Mr. Lewis complaint because he lacked standing as an individual to challenge a carrier’s tariffs, the Commission made a firm statement against SB Cellular’s requirement of a social security number:

    “There is no requirement…that requires one to disclose his or her social security number as a condition precedent to obtaining telephone service.” While a social security number may be requested as a form of identification, there is no requirement for a consumer to accede to that request…In retrospect, it is apparent that SB Cellular could have easily verified complainant’s creditworthiness by other methods, such as by address, dates, and places of employment, mother’s maiden name, or a host of other means less invasive of privacy concerns. In the future, SB Cellular is advised to take great pains to train its agents and staff to avoid a repetition of this type of incident.

    As the Commission recognized in this decision, a carrier can obtain credit information about a potential customer without his or her social security number. Imposing a rule on CMRS Providers prohibiting them from requiring a social security number would not harm their businesses in any way, since credit information can be obtained without a social security number. As a result, requiring a social security number is an unnecessary and invasive practice that violates customers privacy rights and expectations that should be consistently prohibited by the Commission.

  29. Virginia Consumer says:

    When I worked for a local telecom we had a very restrictive application that was used for inbound cold calls (i.e. Hey, can I have phone service) and it required a SSN so that we could do a credit check. We had been burned by too many bad accounts early on and there was no way around that system. Besides, there really isn’t any money in residential service. If it wasn’t required for regulatory it would not exist. The real money is in business accounts. So you may or may not have luck getting around the system. It all depends on how the s/w the company uses is written and how much they trust the line level agents.

    • godlyfrog says:

      @Iowa Consumer: “Besides, there really isn’t any money in residential service.”

      That’s kind of silly, isn’t it? Residential customers may not directly give a big influx of money, but without those residential customers, how many businesses would actually buy phones? Sure businesses would need to talk to each other, but many businesses need phones to talk to their customers, too. Without those home lines, business lines wouldn’t be worth much, either.

  30. ltlbbynthn says:

    Comcast let me give my Driver’s License number instead of my SSN. But of course afterwards I was freaked out that now they could find out all about me in my state….

  31. HawkWolf says:

    on one hand, the SSN card says, “not to be used for identification purposes”, which goes against what companies use it for, to identify you for purposes of credit verification. My university had to stop using it for student ID purposes because that was unconstitutional. I’m not sure what part of the constitution talks about social security numbers but I am so not a lawyer (especially not a constitutional lawyer).

    On the other hand, everyone seems to think that being identified is so terrible. It’s only terrible when a) everyone knows what you’re doing all the time even when you don’t want them to and b) when someone steals your identity.

  32. shepd says:

    Interesting. Up in the great white north, I’ve never given my SIN (Canada’s version of the SSN) for any service, except maybe my bank (only required for credit). It’s illegal to key your database on SIN, so it’s not useful to the programmers. Only management would care.

    That being said, all the utility companies required a $150 deposit to give me service since I was a new customer. The deposit becomes a credit on my account (plus 6% interest, probably required by law) after 1 year. If I move within the service area of the utility, they do not require another deposit, assuming I am not a risk. If I move outside the service area before the year is up and my account is paid in full, I will be given the $150 + interest as a cheque.

    That all being said, gas/electricity (whichever your furnace uses) are *required* by law to be provided through the winter even if you don’t pay a dime. If you refuse to pay, of course, they will put a mark on your credit report, but they cannot withdraw the service until winter is over, and must re-instate it next winter. In this case the electric company does, however, put a temperature (or time, depends on their choice) meter in your house so the power goes out as soon as your house is warm, or the time period for that day has expired.

    Phone service was similarly covered, giving huge long repayment times and several chances before you get cut off (usually something like 6 months + 90 days). Now, it’s still similar for landlines, *however* Bell is no longer required by law to bring the landline to your home for free. Before that law was changed (about 20 years ago) Bell was forced to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars stringing wire across lakes to small island cottages, and could not bill any extra than the top band rate (usually no more than double the regular basic rate).

    YAY UTILITIES!

  33. dlab says:

    All I can say is you better make sure to NEVER EVER EVER forget your account password and/or security information.

  34. LaniTaurus says:

    Contrary to what they tell you a business can run a credit check without an SSN and you can actually come back approved.

    I was able to sign up for cellular service with AT&T without giving it to them. The understanding sales associate (hard to find) just ran the check with my name, address, and DOB.. and since I’d lived at the same location for a few years it came back approved and I didn’t have to pay a deposit. They might tell you it’s impossible but it’s not, I have a regular cell phone plan and they don’t have my SSN.

  35. lidor7 says:

    I just ordered some Comcast cable, and they asked for my SSN. I asked if they just needed my last 4 digits or the whole thing. They wanted the whole thing, and I was ready to give it up, but under the pressure I couldn’t remember the last 4 digits! I ended up getting by without revealing my SSN.