Despite the threat of identity theft, I am surprised at the number of places that continue to ask for a social security number.
Some (a FEW) do need it. For example, filing your taxes. Some (a LOT) do not need it. For example, a doctor’s office – the exception being people on Medicare since your ID number is your social security number followed by a code. Consumer Reports provides a good overview of, “Why you shouldn't give your doctor your Social Security number" (Umansky, 2015).
Another place that does not need it are schools - this includes providing your child's SSN and your SSN. According to a fact sheet issued by the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education, "A school district may not prevent your child from enrolling in or attending school if you choose not to provide your child’s social security number."
A good rule of thumb is to leave the SSN space blank or if you are asked in person for it tell them “no.” Frankly, I think an even better idea is for places not to ask for it if it is not necessary in the first place. If you are questioned for not providing the SSN, do your research to ensure it is legally required otherwise do not provide it.
U.S. Department of Justice (n.d.). Fact Sheet: Information on the Rights of All Children to Enroll in School. Retrieved from https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/crt/legacy/2014/05/08/plylerfact.pdf
Umansky, D. (2015, February 10). Why you shouldn't give your doctor your Social Security number. Retrieved from http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2015/02/why-you-shouldn-t-giver-your-doctor-or-hospital-your-social-security-number/index.htm
photo courtesy of sboneham