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Fighting ID theft: An alternative to Social Security numbers?

September 05, 2013|By David Lazarus

My recent column about cable, satellite and phone companies demanding people's Social Security numbers as a condition for service got Jeffrey thinking.

He wants to know: When did our Social Security numbers become our personal identification numbers?

They weren't intended to serve this function. In fact, people's Social Security cards carried a warning for decades that they shouldn't be used for ID purposes.

ASK LAZ: Smart answers to consumer questions

But every time there's been talk of creating a national ID card, Americans have shot it down, worried about too much personal information being concentrated in one place.

As a result, businesses have fallen back on using our Social Security numbers, and to a lesser extent our driver's licenses, as our de facto IDs.

How can we fix this? Well, since it's hard to imagine any time when having an ID would be unnecessary, we'll either have to accept some other form of identification -- a card, a retina scan, whatever -- or we'll just have to deal with our Social Security numbers being the passports to our personal info.

For more, check out today's Ask Laz video.

If you have a consumer question, email me at asklaz@latimes.com of contact me via Twitter @Davidlaz.

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