ASK THE LAWYER By Daniel A. Gwinn, Esq. Identity Theft

daniel best picThis week’s question: IDENTITY THEFT. Can an employer require me to disclose my social security number on a job application?


QUESTION:  I’m concerned about giving out my social security number on job applications, both over the internet and in person. Can an employer require me to give out my social security number on a job application?

ANSWER: Michigan’s Social Security Number Privacy Act prohibits the display, print, or transmission of an applicant’s entire social security number in most circumstances. The statute, which became effective on March 1, 2005, grants an exception to documentation prepared by an employer before January 1, 2006, where the employer timely devised or implemented a plan to comply with the Act’s privacy provisions. Under the statute, applicants for jobs may only be requested to provide the last four digits of their social security numbers.

There are exceptions to the rule. State or federal law or court order may require a social security number to appear on a document. Once you are hired, you will be required to provide your social security number for tax and/or benefit purposes. If you initiate an enrollment process for health insurance, or a voluntary benefit program, you will likely be required to provide your full social security number. Vital public records may also require the inclusion of an entire social security number.

The Social Security Number Privacy Act also requires employers to create a privacy policy that ensures confidentiality of social security numbers and prohibits their unlawful disclosure. A valid privacy policy must limit who has access to private information, and describe the disposal process for documents containing an individual’s social security number. Employer privacy policies may be included in an employee manual or made available electronically.

The lawyers at GWINN TAURIAINEN PLLC are experienced attorneys and are happy to answer your questions. Give us a call for a free initial telephone consultation about your legal needs. For consideration of your questions in our web column, please submit your inquiry on the “Contact Us” page of our website at

ASK THE LAWYER By: Daniel A. Gwinn, Esq.
Attorney and Counselor at Law
901 Wilshire Drive, Suite 550
Troy, MI 48084
(248) 247-3300
(248) 247-3310 facsimile