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)