Credit card company wants copy of Social Security card

February 17, 2011

Dear Consumer Ed:

I recently applied for a credit card for the first time. Although I entered my social security number on the application, I received a request from the credit card company for a copy of my actual social security card. Is this normal? Is this safe?

Consumer Ed says:

This is a troubling question.  In these times of rampant identity theft, it is very valid for a credit issuer to try to determine that you are, in fact, the person you say you are.  However, we discussed this scenario with the Georgia Department of Banking of Finance and several Georgia banks. All of them said they could see no valid reason that you should be asked to provide your actual social security card.  So, while the request may well be legitimate, it seems outside of normal practices. 

Before completing this credit card application, make sure you are dealing with a reputable company.  For example, is it a major bank? If so, you might want to go into one of their branches to apply for a card, so you can show them your identification in person.  If that is not possible, you could call and speak to a manager of the company. Explain that you are not comfortable with sending a copy of your social security card and ask if they can process your application without it. If you have never heard of the financial institution in question, you might want to think twice before providing them with personal identifying information.