Must I give an SSN for a background check?

Nobody is required to give an SSN for a background check.

Prerequisites to understanding this essay:

Protected Personally Identifiable Information (PPII) is defined in Title 2, U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, Section 200.1. This type of protected information is protected by federal law. Do not confuse this with Personally Identifiable Information, (PII), which is not protected.

Can a SSN be required for a background check?

Social Security Cards are issued by the IRS (not the SSA) for specific government purposes, as defined in the Social Security Act of 1935.

Social Security Cards remain property of the federal government. You, if you were issued one, are the custodian of government property. You have a duty to responsibly use what they entrusted to you. It was issued for government purposes. Not for other uses. The original cards stated, in bold capitalized red letters, “NOT FOR IDENTIFICATION“.

Here is a complaint letter that you can use. They will wisely refuse to answer my questions. You must then force them to answer in court.


“I was recently denied employment because I refused to provide private information which was being coerced in violation of federal law.

At my interview I was told that I cannot be employed without a background check and that a Social Security Number was needed for a background check.

SSNs are not for identification. A SSN is a government number created for government use.  You are not the government. Your background check is not a government use. You are asking for protected personal identifiable information as defined in Title 2, U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, Section 200.1.

The intent of the Privacy Act is explained by Congress in their Legislative History of the Privacy Act, Public Law 93-579 at page 6981:

The Privacy Act protects individuals, “as a condition of employment”, “from coercion by … private businesses…”. There are exceptions in Section 7 of the Act for SSN mandatory disclosures, but background screening is not an exception.

The Privacy Act, Public Law 93-579, section 7 says that it is illegal for a “government agency to deny to any individual any right, benefit, or privilege provided by law because of such individual’s refusal to disclose his social security number”– with two exceptions — disclosure required by Federal Statute or disclosure to an agency system of records that pre-existed the Privacy Act.

The Privacy Act laws are also emphasized by the Social Security Administration in their Publication SSA- 05-10002:

What law mandates a SSN for your background check?

Did you commit crimes?

Title 42 U.S. Code section 408(a)(8):

“(a) Whoever —
(8) discloses, uses, or compels the disclosure of the social security number of any person in violation of the laws of the United States;
… shall be guilty of a felony and upon conviction thereof shall be fined under title 18 or imprisoned for not more than five years, or both…”

What law compels job candidates to disclose a SSN for the purposes of a background check? If so, provide a Privacy Act Statement that states your authority to ask. And also states if it is mandatory or voluntary.

What law allows you to disclose a job candidates’ SSNs to the background check investigator?

If you are going to transfer job candidates’ SSNs across state lines to obtain background checks, then you should be aware of: U.S. Code, Title 18, Section 1028(a)(7):

“(7) knowingly transfers, possesses, or uses, without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person with the intent to commit, or to aid or abet, or in connection with, any unlawful activity that constitutes a violation of Federal law,”

“means of identification” is defined at 18 USC § 1028(d)(7).

I anxiously await your honest response.

Steven Miller


You can add a reference to the racketeering laws. And mention that the Privacy Act statement must use the term “mandatory” or the term “voluntary”. If it ever goes to court, You can emphasize that section 7(a)(1) of the Privacy Act makes it unlawful to deny any right, benefit or privilege to anyone who refuses to provide a Social Security Number, except for mandatory disclosures required by law. Section 7 was never codified into the U.S. Code, so it will be hard to find — but I included it as an appendix to my book Resisting the W-4 and I-9.

Please share this with others who might be interested.


SSNs are not required to live or work in the U.S.
Things the government forgot to tell you about the Social Security System.
Will you be deceived into getting the Mark of the Beast?
People are destroyed for lack of knowledge.
When must a Christian obey government?

If you are going to take your new employer to court, I recommend an online law course. And you might be interested in my book Resisting the W-4 and I-9.

If you need interesting and informative content for your newsletters, blogs, online articles, or even a well-researched blog post rebuttal, let me know.

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