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Ask HN: Recruiters who request SSN over the phone
11 points by indiejade 3115 days ago | hide | past | web | 15 comments | favorite
I was contacted by a recruiter firm yesterday about a 30-90 day W2 position. I sent my resume and later received a message from the same recruiter person who stated he had a "question." After another call this morning, I learned that the information they were seeking was my Social Security Number.

Of course I am always hesitant to give that out. But I really need work. After checking out the company's site, asking why this information was needed, and generally getting no straight answers, the person said that all kinds of companies are asking for that info these days: ATT, Microsoft, etc. Basically what I said was, half-jokingly, "Well, if I'm a vicitm of identity theft, I'll just sue your company."

I really need paid work, so I eventually gave it over, but this does not seem like this should be a necessary part of standard practice. ESPECIALLY for a w2 position.

Question: Does anyone have experience with this kind of procedure? I have not worked with recruiters for so long for reasons like this; but desperate for work, I feel like I am backed into a corner.

Hey, recruiters lie.

An SSN is required when you hire for a W2 position... that's that a W2 is: a report of income indexed by SSN. But unless they are saying "you're hired, start Monday, and bring proof of citizenship for the I9", this sounds very shady. I've never been asked for this pre-hire and I can't imagine any good uses for this info.

It sounds like they are taking advantage of desperate people and you should tell them to shove it up their ass.

This is exactly what I said. . . I said it would be an understandable request if I had an employment offer, but since I don't even know the name of the company that is "interested" in my resume, I'm basically helpless.

Now I am worried. The recruiter who called was from this company: (type it in w/out the spaces; please don't tip them off with a link to their site!) http://www. a t - t e c h . c o m

Do you really think I should be worried?

You are not helpless. If they won't tell you anything, don't tell them anything and tell them why. If they insist, tell them to fuck off and find another sucker. You gotta have a little pride here, no matter your situation.

It's not likely that they are going to steal your identity. By "no good use" I mean that they want your SSN for their databases, perhaps running preemptive background and credit checks, matching up your past employment history, etc, etc.

It's done, now. Can't get the water coloring back out of the pool. If you are worried about theft you can do a fraud alert / hold with the three credit agencies: TRW, Experian, and the other one I always forget.

Just don't do that again. :)

It sounds fishy. Is a background or credit check part of your pre-hire approval? If not, there is no reason for them to ask for this information without you being there to fill out a W2, as aristus mentioned.

If they can't tell you specifically why they need this information in very concrete details, do not give it out. (I see that you've already given them this information, but be sure to be more careful in the future.)

No, you never-ever-never-ever give your SSN to a recruiter(nor anyone else). There is absolutely no reason form them to need it.

The ssn is I think eventually required for background checks, but for me, that happened after I accepted the job offer.

Did you call the company's board line to reach the recruiter ?

I normally don't give out my ssn in any situation.

If someone can't convincingly articulate why they need a piece of my personal information, I tell them to get bent.

To me, the most suspicious part is that they couldn't give you a straight answer.

I've had to deal with a handful of job searches in the last decade and I know why they -might- legitimately want it (background and credit checks).

But this guy who places people -professionally- can't tell you?

As far as I understand it (my dad worked for the labor union for decades) it's absolutely illegal to use SSN for anything other than taxes - a law that is regularly broken in this country. If some recruiter asked me for my SSN over the phone I'd laugh at him and if he pushed the issue, I'd walk away or try to get hold of his boss depending on my mood. Certainly a recruiter has no business knowing your SSN!

Next thing you know they'll be asking for your email password so they can hire all your contacts, too.

Ugh. I had one tech-staffing company recruiter call all my references, pepper them with questions regarding their experience, ask for their resumes and references as well.

I really had hoped to have a better experience with tech staffing companies, but they have been a major fail for me. This is in spite of the fact that at one of the staffing companies I had a solid personal connection within the company.

Scores in late 2008/early 2009:

Recruiting companies - four interviews with technical staff recruiters for "open jobs", zero interviews with hiring companies

Personal job search (on boards and craigslist) and resume submissions - four interviews, three job offers

And your mother's maiden name. You know, in case they have trouble contacting her.

No I would not give my full SSN for submitting just a resume. There is every chance of misusing. Microsoft vendors never asks full MSN for resume submission. Only last 4 digits.

What's particular about the ssn ? Why is it used so widely ? (I'm European)

ssn = social security number, the # we use to pay our taxes into our social security fund. It's the only unique identifier every person qualified to work in the US is guaranteed to have and many times many systems are keyed off it.

(Darkly) amusing to note that it was originally sold to a very skeptical public with the promise that it would never ever be used as an individual identification number. It was merely your account number in the Social Security program.

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