Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

SSN Required To Buy Palm Pre

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the credit-you-said-it dept.

Privacy 543

UltraOne writes "Sprint requires your Social Security number in order to run a credit check before they will allow you to open an account, according to a store manager in Silver Spring, MD. Since Sprint is the exclusive carrier for the Palm Pre, if you are not willing to provide an SSN, you can't buy this product. I believe a full credit check for this level of consumer purchase is a clear example of overkill. I have supplied an SSN when buying a house and renting an apartment, but never for any other consumer purchase. I have purchased my cars with cash so far, so I don't have first-hand experience, but a car loan also seems to be an appropriate place to require an SSN for a credit check. At the very least, Sprint should have an alternative for people who don't want to give out their SSN. I also found the entire experience a powerful argument against exclusive license agreements." Read below for details of this reader's experience.
I was eager to purchase the Palm Pre to replace my aging Zire 72s, and also consolidate my PDA and mobile phone into a single device. Since reviews have generally been positive, I headed to my local Sprint store (8501 Fenton Street, Silver Spring, MD). My current mobile carrier is Verizon, so I also needed to set up service with Sprint.

The store had the Pre in stock, and the sale proceeded smoothly until the sales associate asked me for my Social Security number. He had already verified my identity with a driver's license. When I asked why the SSN was needed, he said it was to run a credit check. I offered a credit card instead, but he said that the SSN was required.

I asked to speak to the manager, who was a pleasant young woman, but not able to resolve the problem. She confirmed that Sprint required the SSN to run a credit check (through a credit bureau) before opening an account. I told her that I understood Sprint had an interest in making sure that I could pay for the service (I was planning to get the $70/month Everything Data 450 plan), but that I was concerned about identity theft and privacy. I offered several other options, including a check on my credit card limit, which is an order of magnitude greater than the combined price of the phone and two-year contract; placing the maximum deposit that Sprint requires from people with poor credit ($500); or pre-paying the entire two-year plan on the spot. None of these was acceptable options, so Sprint lost the sale.

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

And? (5, Insightful)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 5 years ago | (#28418601)

Is there a cellphone provider that doesn't require you to provide your SSN before signing up for a contract?

Re:And? (4, Informative)

Shag (3737) | more than 5 years ago | (#28418623)

Contract, probably not. But in a few months the original poster will probably be able to buy that Pre unlocked, with a prepaid (Pre-paid?) plan from someone, without going through the credit check. Money up front talks. :)

Re:And? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28419007)

I sometimes wish it talked louder. My experience with O2 in the uk.

I wanted three iPhones for the business, however the credit agencies didn't have enough history on me and so I got a rating of 'technically insolvent'.

I offered to pay for all three handsets and *all* the contracts up front. They still wouldn't have it!

I went back to the office pulled files showing signed contracts showing over £100k of guranteed income. Paperwork detailing business insurance to cover loss of earnings, professional indemnifcation etc bank statements that showed £10k month credits for the last several months, I even did my own credit search on me to show them why they were getting that result and that it was just a technicality.

I still got the standard 'Computer says no' response.

Eventually after about 2 hours of kicking up a stink in the shop I finally embarrassed them into ring head office (pointing out very loudly that they didnt want to take thousands of pounds from me today did the trick - though I was assured there was nothing head office could do either)

Lo and behold someone with an ounce of sense decided it was a bit silly saying no to someone who was throwing money at you.

Re:And? (5, Interesting)

phoenix321 (734987) | more than 5 years ago | (#28419333)

These days, any phone or cell phone technically is a credit account with absolutely no limits due to being able to rack up hours and hours calling "premium" numbers.

And unlike a credit card, your kid and any of his friends visiting your house can use that phone to call whatever expensive number they like, with no limits, no checks or any verification whatsoever. They can just start billing ridiculous amounts of money.

That's the background of this credit check:
Even your ultra-flatrate-everything plan will not cover premium numbers or roaming charges.
Individually disabling premium numbers, disabling roaming or disbanding this crooked concept of thievery altogether means the providers losing their huge margins on that.

Every ordinary phone plan can rack up the monetary equivalent of several expensive sports cars within one month, that's why we get credit checks equivalent to buying a house and a mortgage for that phone plan.

Re:And? (1)

Dayze!Confused (717774) | more than 5 years ago | (#28418645)

From the article, I am guessing Verizon, since the guy is signed up for their service already. But hey, maybe he was willing to give Verizon his SSN.

Re:And? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28418695)

The point is that he made a more than reasonable effort to purchase their product without releasing personal details. They chose not to make the sale of a new phone; and the chose not to receive full, on the spot payment of a two year contract for want of his SSN. They didn't need it at that point, and lost a pretty good chunk of change.

Re:And? (2, Insightful)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 5 years ago | (#28419367)

I've only been with sprint since I got my first cell phone in the last 90's. I've never given a SSN to a phone company.

However, I've been concerned that I will run into the same thing with switching and getting an iPhone....but, to get around that...gonna do it through my company I formed to do contracting through. I'd be ok giving my EIN, rather than my SSN.

I just do not give SSN out, I'll pay deposits no problem, but, I don't give out SSN. Sure it is a bit of a hassle with utilities, but, it can be done.

Re:And? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28418779)

Is there a cellphone provider that doesn't require you to provide your SSN before signing up for a contract?

I suppose I can understand the requirement for SSN and/or Drivers License number for a credit check.. barely. Because, after all, you are signing a contract to keep paying for it, like leasing a car.

But what bothers me is that they KEEP IT ON RECORD. Sprint asks you to confirm the last four digits of your SSN when you call customer service. This allows them to profile you, potentially sell it (legal or not), and more likely have it STOLEN and then sold/used for nefarious purposes.

Why do they retain this information? Because it is valuable to collect information whether they know what to do with it or not. I think the risks for abuse are scary and NOT worth it. But, they don't care. Not until something bad happens and they get hoards of angry customers.

Re:And? (5, Interesting)

noidentity (188756) | more than 5 years ago | (#28418881)

But what bothers me is that they KEEP IT ON RECORD. Sprint asks you to confirm the last four digits of your SSN when you call customer service. This allows them to profile you, potentially sell it (legal or not), and more likely have it STOLEN and then sold/used for nefarious purposes.

And what's infuriating is that the last four digits are the most important [hoboes.com] ; the first 5 are determined based on time and place of birth.

Re:And? (5, Informative)

apathyruiner (222745) | more than 5 years ago | (#28419309)

The first 5 are based on time and place of your application for an SSN. My siblings and I all have the same first 5, despite all being born in different states.

Re:And? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28419457)

The last four digits are supposedly issued sequentially. Which doesn't explain why my sibling and I share the same first five digits (we were born and first lived in adjacent counties, so that part makes sense) and my last 4 is much lower, despite the number being issued years later.

Re:And? (4, Insightful)

xouumalperxe (815707) | more than 5 years ago | (#28419315)

And what's infuriating is that the last four digits are the most important; the first 5 are determined based on time and place of birth.

Which is precisely why asking for the first five would be a completely ineffective to ascertain your identity.

Re:And? (5, Insightful)

rant64 (1148751) | more than 5 years ago | (#28419491)

And what's infuriating is that the last four digits are the most important; the first 5 are determined based on time and place of birth.

Which is precisely why asking for the first five would be a completely ineffective to ascertain your identity.

SSNs were never intended to provide identification, and with flaws like this it's no wonder they weren't.

Re:And? (4, Informative)

Dredd13 (14750) | more than 5 years ago | (#28419023)

It's less about "because you are signing a contract" than it is because they are, in point of fact, extending you credit, in the form of allowing you to rack up usage charges that they will bill you for after the fact. They may not disclose what your credit limit is on that front, but believe me, behind the scenes, that number -- how far into usage charges they will let you get without payment -- has been calculated to the penny and stored in your account info.

Why do they retain this information? Like any other creditor they know that your credit situation changes, and they will periodically 're-check' your credit to see if their internal number for your credit-worthiness needs to be adjusted up or down as time goes on.

Put the tin-foil hats away, folks. Until you come up with a better system for identifying consumers to credit agencies, there's "nothing to see here."

Re:And? (2, Interesting)

apathyruiner (222745) | more than 5 years ago | (#28419297)

Your spending limit is clearly printed on your contract with Sprint, and you are required to initial that section confirming that you are aware of it.

Re:And? (3, Informative)

Dredd13 (14750) | more than 5 years ago | (#28419351)

Having signed two Sprint contracts in the last two weeks, and looking at them right in front of me, I would not make it a statement of fact, as you have, that the spending limit is printed on the contract, as it doesn't appear on either mine or my wife's at all.

At the end of the day, though, even if it were printed on the contract, it's still CREDIT, and they've got every right to demand an SSN to do a credit-check on you if they're extending you credit.

Re:And? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28418921)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't requiring the SSN illegal? What does social security have to do with a cellphone contract?

Re:And? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28419363)

Yes, that is correct. Since 2008 in the United States only the IRS, employers, banks, and very few specific institutions are still allowed to require you to submit your SSN. Even a landlord cannot legally ask people for their SSNs anymore and if he turns you down because you refuse to give it to him, you can report him. As an attorney it is a mystery to me that so many people are still not informed about the law and let companies get away with asking for SSNs. They should simply ask people for a reasonable deposit and not risk getting reported or sued.

Re:And? (4, Informative)

dimeglio (456244) | more than 5 years ago | (#28419119)

In Canada although it is not illegal for merchands to ask for your Social Insurance Number [servicecanada.gc.ca] you are not legally required to give it. If they refuse the sale, you can make a complaint to the Privacy Commissioner of Canada [privcom.gc.ca] .

Re:And? (1)

SirAdelaide (1432553) | more than 5 years ago | (#28419149)

Yes. Move to Australia. All they want is two credit cards.

Re:And? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28419317)

Certainly not come across one in the UK at least.

Sounds more like the person in TFA has just awoken from a coma and entered the 21st century.

To be honest, I don't even think a credit check is unreasonable, you can rack up a pretty hefty bill on a mobile phone and yet lots of people from all walks of life want one. There's bound to be a lot of people out there who'd gladly sign up to it, not have any kind of self control whatsoever, rack up a $1000 bill and then be completely unable to pay it because they're the same people who also managed to max out their credit cards too.

I understand it sucks having to hand it over, but I'm not sure what the answer is from their perspective otherwise - simply trust everyone and ultimately get screwed because many people really just can't be trusted which is partly why the world is in the current financial system it is in the first place?

If you don't want to pass details over the pay as you go option is there. Can't get the best handsets on it? Well that's because they're subsidised by your contract and they sell so few at their real price it probably isn't worth selling them as pay as you go at all.

Re:And? (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 5 years ago | (#28419427)

"To be honest, I don't even think a credit check is unreasonable, you can rack up a pretty hefty bill on a mobile phone and yet lots of people from all walks of life want one. There's bound to be a lot of people out there who'd gladly sign up to it, not have any kind of self control whatsoever, rack up a $1000 bill and then be completely unable to pay it because they're the same people who also managed to max out their credit cards too."

Ok, I've seen this alluded to a few times on this discussion. How they hell would a person run up bills that high??

I mean, most plans I see have 1000's of anytime minutes as a minimum...with nights and weekends free....and long distance is free too. How do you run up such high bills with all that time?

Re:And? (2, Insightful)

Haxzaw (1502841) | more than 5 years ago | (#28419597)

I mean, most plans I see have 1000's of anytime minutes as a minimum...with nights and weekends free....and long distance is free too. How do you run up such high bills with all that time?

By purchasing songs, ringtones, texting, sending photos, and possibly in rare cases, 1-900, and other premium numbers.

Re:And? (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 5 years ago | (#28419319)

"Is there a cellphone provider that doesn't require you to provide your SSN before signing up for a contract?"

I've been with Sprint a LONG time....and they have never had my SSN.

how much does cost a SSN on black market ? (4, Insightful)

Atreide (16473) | more than 5 years ago | (#28418631)

a stolen valid credit card number and SSN costs pretty nothing.

if SSN requirement is to protect from stolen identity, it won't simply work.

They continue to fail (2, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#28418641)

Eventually, one of these manufacturers (I'm looling at you Nokia) is going to break ranks and stop signing exclusive deals. They'll actually make phones with a price point that is reasonable (ya know, like the god damn iPhone is outright? how the hell has Apple become the low cost option you greedy bastards?) and sell directly to consumers. Retail really isn't that hard these days.. just provide a web only shop.. then cave a few years later and open emporiums.

Re:They continue to fail (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28418701)

Nokia will already sell you any phone you want today. It's the American consumers that keep insisting on 2-year contracts.

You're no different. You want an uncrippled phone for the same price as a subsidized one. The iPhone isn't a low cost option, you're just buying it ON CREDIT.

Re:They continue to fail (1)

daveime (1253762) | more than 5 years ago | (#28419099)

Yup, here in Philippines, I just pre-ordered an N97 and got it delivered to the door in time for the wife's birthday. No contract, no bullshit, just cash-in-hand and done.

You might want to think about getting someone you know in Asia to buy you a nice new phone and Fedex it across to you in US ? Besides not having the contract hassles, it actually might work out a couple of hundred bucks cheaper also.

Re:They continue to fail (2, Informative)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 5 years ago | (#28418807)

Low Cost? An unlocked iphone costs I believe around $800 in places where it's available legally. In the US you pay $200 because the rest comes from the 2-year contract you're forced to buy alongside the phone.

Re:They continue to fail (4, Informative)

jcupitt65 (68879) | more than 5 years ago | (#28418839)

You can buy an unlocked phone from most of the manufactures now. Just get a SIM card for the network you want to use and pop it in.

For example, the N85 [nokiausa.com] is $399 unlocked on the Nokia store.

Re:They continue to fail (4, Informative)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 5 years ago | (#28418865)

The iPhone is definitely -not- reasonably priced. Last year's was $600 or $700 ( http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25478296/ns/technology_and_science-wireless/ [msn.com] ) and this years is $800 ( http://www.boygeniusreport.com/2009/06/15/rogers-fido-no-contract-iphone-3g-s-pricing-revealed-eh/ [boygeniusreport.com] ). That's not -reasonable- at all.

The G1 is about $450 outright, which is still too high to be called 'reasonable', but it's a lot closer.

These new toys are expensive. Period.

Re:They continue to fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28418965)

that's very reasonable.
Vastly inferior phones sell for much more than that.

Yes its more expensive than whatever the current teen targeted phone from Motorola or Nokia is, but compared with other high-end phones, it's very competitive.

Re:They continue to fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28419111)

Are you referring to the iPhone or the G1 as reasonable? The former definitely isn't.

The Nokia 5800 and N97 are $290 and $650 on Amazon, by the way, so the G1 would be mid-priced.

Re:They continue to fail (1)

WillyDavidK (977353) | more than 5 years ago | (#28418895)

Apparently someone slept through the lesson on subsidies in their Economics class...

Re:They continue to fail (1)

Narcogen (666692) | more than 5 years ago | (#28419439)

Actually, Palm (and before them Handspring) used to be the BEST option for just getting whatever phone you like and then signing up for service later. Handspring usually sold unlocked GSM phones (like the Visorphones and then the early treos) and even when the 600 and 650 came out I was able to get unlocked devices either day and date with the carrier versions, or shortly thereafter. Palm has decided they want to play with the big boys, and to sell big numbers you need access to the operator stores, and that means exclusive deals, long contracts, and subsidized handsets, as well as all the nonsense that comes with it, including credit checks and invasive procedures like this. A shame, really. All around. The US mobile phone market in particular is a shriveled, stunted, twisted thing that makes incompetent mom & pop shops in the third world look good.

Another iPhone botherer fails (0, Flamebait)

iamapizza (1312801) | more than 5 years ago | (#28418665)

First - never call your new phone an 'iPhone killer'.
Second - if you're going to make an iPhone botherer, make sure it's easily accessible to the masses. All that marketing and hype will do you no good if you pull of a gimmick like this or simply weren't aware of it when making an exclusivity deal.
Third - don't do exclusivity deals, what is the point in that?!
Fourth - I for one would like to welcome our SSN... ah never mind.

Re:Another iPhone botherer fails (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28418835)

First - nowhere is it marketed as such. In fact, no phone is generally marketed as such (otherwise you would be a laughing stock if/when you're product fails to live up to the hype). Notice the iPhone wasn't marketed as the Blackberry killer, even though at the time that was the question. It is a label applied to it by media & the public due to perception of features & target market.
Second - it's pretty easily accessible. go to best buy or a sprint store & you can get the phone. whether or not you agree to the terms of sale is up to you.
Third - unfortunately, that seems to be standard practice these days. cell companies like it because it helps them retain customers/attract new ones & phone manufacturers like it because of the guaranteed sales (generally the cell company will buy a certain amount from the phone manufacturer) & perhaps even kickbacks (rumors are that Apple gets a percentage of every monthly bill).
Fourth - This is a general problem with american society. Everyone asks for the SSN & credit background checks. iPhone has a similar problem (used to be you could get a prepaid iPhone without that, but it appears AT&T has gotten rid of that too).

Re:Another iPhone botherer fails (0, Troll)

daveime (1253762) | more than 5 years ago | (#28419137)

How can you kill that which has no life ?

To say that none-multitasking piece of crap that is "iJobs" latest offering comes anywhere *close* to a high end Nokia, Motorola or Sony Ericksson is just crazy.

They had to wait till version 2 just to get 3G for God's sake, while the rest of the world has been enjoying 3.5G for a couple of years already. And they only just got a real *video* recorder also ... well whoop-de-doo Basil.

iPhone is to cell phones, as Cartier is to watches ... fucking expensive shiny piece of crap that probably does half of what a $5 timepiece would do. People don't buy it for funtion, they buy it like any other piece of bling bling.

Re:Another iPhone botherer fails (1)

macs4all (973270) | more than 5 years ago | (#28419471)

iPhone is to cell phones, as Cartier is to watches ... fucking expensive shiny piece of crap that probably does half of what a $5 timepiece would do.

Sounds like someone wishes they could afford an iPhone; but their Mom won't buy them one...

Welcome to the watchlist (4, Insightful)

wild_quinine (998562) | more than 5 years ago | (#28418677)

If the SSN is there to verify credit, and only to do this, then a full up-front payment should utterly negate this need. If there's no provision locally for doing this, perhaps writing a letter to regional management will help out. It's likely the staff of your local are not in a position to make decisions about how to accept payment.

On the other hand, perhaps mobile contracts require a SSN these days in order that you can more easily be monitored by law enforcement. In which case, you're SOL till they're on sale SIM-free.

It's pretty likely they'll be unlockable soon enough, and then you'll see them on ebay. You're obviously willing to pay a premium, so keep your eyes open.

Jumping through hoops is for PUPPETS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28418901)

If you can't walk in cash in hand, and walk out with product in hand,
it is not worth buying -- no self respecting free (wo)man would stand for such horse manure.

Re:Jumping through hoops is for PUPPETS (1)

bickerdyke (670000) | more than 5 years ago | (#28419213)

You're kind of right.

but thats very difficult when the "product" is a 2 years phone service contract.
Or maybe it's just as easy as walking out of a store with 2 years of electricity.

Re:Jumping through hoops is for PUPPETS (1)

RegularFry (137639) | more than 5 years ago | (#28419369)

Not really. Unless there are tax implications, it ought to be in their interest to take all the money up front rather than as a monthly subscription because they get to claim interest on it. Then again, I don't know how likely it is that someone who pays up front will extend the contract as compared to someone who pays monthly.

Re:Welcome to the watchlist (4, Insightful)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 5 years ago | (#28418937)

If the SSN is there to verify credit, and only to do this, then a full up-front payment should utterly negate this need

So how much should that up-front payment be? Let's set it at $25,000 just in case you make $24500-worth of calls before you default on payment.

Re:Welcome to the watchlist (4, Insightful)

wild_quinine (998562) | more than 5 years ago | (#28419051)

So how much should that up-front payment be? Let's set it at $25,000 just in case you make $24500-worth of calls before you default on payment.

Put a credit cap on your account at $100 a month. It's not rocket science.

Re:Welcome to the watchlist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28419527)

They don't want to put a credit cap on accounts - they would much much rather people ran up bills of $500 a month, as long as they are good for the money.

Re:Welcome to the watchlist (2, Insightful)

adolf (21054) | more than 5 years ago | (#28418973)

Disclaimer: I do IT stuff for a regional Verizon dealer. (Please note that this is neither Sprint, nor related to a Palm Pre.)

AFAICT, in working amongst the sales staff, an SSN is required for any (non-prepaid) phone. Even if you pay for the handset outright. It's even a prerequisite for any account changes (or at least the last four digits are).

Why? Because they're going to bill you, after the fact, for the services that you've used, and they just want to make sure that you're (likely to be) good for the money when the bill comes. Hence credit checks, and/or a deposit if your credit rating is poor. (Not every company is so friendly as Dreamhost, who will send you reminders about the money you owe them for months and months while still continuing to service the wayward account as usual.)

Just like any other utility. The power company here wants to do a credit check before they'll give me service, so does the local (landline) telco, and the gas company, and my banker, and my previous landlord(s), and... It's just to establish merit. Fail the credit check, and get asked to put a deposit in. Pass, and you skip the deposit and move on with life. End of story.

Of course a credit check is in Sprint's interest to conduct whenever a phone (on a month-to-month plan) is sold, and (AFAIK) such credit checks need an SSN to complete.

Nothing to see here, folks; move along (and throw away that fucking tinfoil hat while you're at it).

Re:Welcome to the watchlist (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 5 years ago | (#28419265)

Why? Because they're going to bill you, after the fact, for the services that you've used

Simple solution: once the user has racked up say, $100 in extra costs, block anything that costs extra until they pay.

I had exactly this situation. I signed up with Vigin Mobile, but I was a student and didn't have much credit history. They gave me the phone without me needing to pay in advance, but I couldn't spend more than £50 extra (i.e. calls once I'd used the included time etc). What if I needed to spend more than £50 in a month? Simple, I could go on to the online bill payment system and make a pre-payment (or presumably do it by phone).

The power company here wants to do a credit check before they'll give me service

...but the power company here is quite happy to bill me in advance if I refuse (or fail) the credit check. (They estimate usage and base the bill on that, then refund/bill the difference whenever I provide them with a meter reading. Occasionally, people can get large bills if the estimate was wildly wrong or their usage suddenly increases but they don't provide a reading.)

(AFAIK) such credit checks need an SSN to complete.

They don't require any numbers in the UK (not everyone has one). Credit checks seem to rely on a current address (and if necessary previous addresses until they know where you've been living for the past few years).

Re:Welcome to the watchlist (1)

Kazymyr (190114) | more than 5 years ago | (#28419447)

Simple solution: once the user has racked up say, $100 in extra costs, block anything that costs extra until they pay.

Stands to reason, right? Yes, but you see they don't want to do that. They want to be able to bill you for $500, or $1000, or $17000 if you go on a texting or 1-900 calling rampage for instance.

Re:Welcome to the watchlist (1)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 5 years ago | (#28419545)

I use Virgin Mobile Prepaid for that. I can check my dollar balance anytime on my phone, how many minutes I have remaining, how many texts I have remaining, and even change plans!

When my account hit's $0 the phone instantly stops accepting and handling phone calls if I have no minutes, and stops accepting texts if I have none left.

I spend about $10 a month on a cell phone.

Disclaimer: I do not work for them, but I love their cheap service. I refuse to use contracts.

http://www.virginmobileusa.com/rates/home.do [virginmobileusa.com] Make sure you check and see which plan you like though. I do a lot of texting, so I only have a texting plan, the $5 a month one.

Re:Welcome to the watchlist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28419049)

There's no "perhaps" about it. The SSN is required for the service contract.

Re:Welcome to the watchlist (1)

dark42 (1085797) | more than 5 years ago | (#28419075)

Except the Pre is a CDMA phone, and therefore is not unlockable. There is no SIM card, and I doubt Sprint would activate the phone for you if you somehow managed to obtain a Pre without buying it from them.

Re:Welcome to the watchlist (4, Informative)

cybereal (621599) | more than 5 years ago | (#28419205)

Your assertion that CDMA phones are unlockable is outright wrong. People have already unlocked the Pre for compatibility with Verizon.

The issue about no SIM card is a bigger one, however, because once you do unlock the device, you still have to get someone on a competing network to register and activate your device to their network which Verizon has a policy specifically not to do with devices they don't sell you. There are workarounds such as knowing someone, but it's never going to be as trivial as sliding in your SIM.

Re:Welcome to the watchlist (1)

dark42 (1085797) | more than 5 years ago | (#28419311)

OK, thanks for clearing that up.

Re:Welcome to the watchlist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28419295)

yes the current pre is cdma but there is already a gsm prototype http://www.palminfocenter.com/news/9694/gsm-palm-pre-spotted-in-the-flesh/ so i dont know why anyone would be saying it iasnt unlockable without a "yet" after it but, hey the fact is you can configure a cdma phone for another network ie verizon but you need to do all the configuring yourself if you want help from a providor yes you are SOL :)

It's a Trap (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28418731)

Asking for that SSN to run a credit check is half of the problem. The second half is that credit is the worst thing to happen to working people and society as a whole. Almost all of us would be better off if we had really lousy credit ratings, Instead we have gotten to the point that we must have credit to house ourselves, to transport ourselves and now to simply get a phone. Wage slave is not a goal that one wants to reach. End credit and watch the prices of homes, cars etc. fall to reasonable levels.

Self credit check (2, Interesting)

Aphex Junkie (633436) | more than 5 years ago | (#28418733)

What about running a credit check on yourself (costs ~$12) and presenting them a copy of it (maybe with the non-essential details redacted)? I mean, you get the same information they do, so what's the big idea? You can forge a printout, but you can't forge anything when you present it from a website (such as MyFICO). In fact, looking at the credit report I printed earlier, I can see that the SSN is redacted automatically and only the last 4 digits are shown. The rest of the information is public knowledge (current address), or innocuous (birth month and year). Giving out your SSN is total bullshit. Tinfoil hat or not, I go out of my way to avoid it.

Re:Self credit check (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 5 years ago | (#28419175)

What about running a credit check on yourself (costs ~$12) and presenting them a copy of it (maybe with the non-essential details redacted)?

The carrier may be insuring themselves against losses from non-paying customers. The insurers will probably require them to carry out the credit check themselves as a due diligence requirement.

At least you can then use it (5, Informative)

St.Creed (853824) | more than 5 years ago | (#28418735)

Here in The Netherlands we already have had a few of those schemes, for example for the iPhone. Apple decided to go with T-Mobile, which may work fine in a few other countries (Germany, Austria), but over here I can only get reception when I'm on the 2nd floor of my house, or in the center of the city. While having to give out your SSN is not good, at least you have a working phone afterwards. Here we have to do the same (they photocopy your passport etc. as well) and then discover you can't use it... It was one of the reasons I did not buy an iPhone. Fortunately Belgium has outlawed exclusive contracts so I can go there and pick one up. Still, the attitude of "screw the customer, we get more money this way" does nothing for Apple's image and sealed my decision to keep my old phone for now.

Re:At least you can then use it (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 5 years ago | (#28418981)

There's not a lot our government gets right but here in Oz we have a TFN (same thing as a SSN), private companies cannot request it except for specific tax related purposes and even then you can refuse (the drawback being you pay the highest tax and have to claim it back), the tax department rules are here [privacy.gov.au] . In other words a TFN is useless for checking someones credit rating.

Also monopoly deals as seen with Apple/phone_company_X, and Ebay/paypal are illegal.

Re:At least you can then use it (1)

Kindaian (577374) | more than 5 years ago | (#28419029)

Old phones are good...

Good for your pocket and the environment.

Remember... that before the 3 R... there are 3 more R... that people [r]arelly use:

[R]efurbish, [R]epair and [R]euse... ;)

Re:At least you can then use it (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 5 years ago | (#28419289)

You missed the most important one of all: [R]educe!

My phone is "old" (2 years?) but it was a "nice" (thin and silver) one when I bought it. It's beginning to fall apart, I don't think the fashionable phones are made very well.

They all require SSNs (2, Interesting)

rennerik (1256370) | more than 5 years ago | (#28418761)

... well, at least, the ones I've had experience with.

I've been with T-Mobile (BlackBerry), AT&T (iPhone), and now Sprint (Pre), and they all asked for SSN when signing up. I don't think any place is going to let you into a contract with a subsidized phone without running a credit check (hence the SSN request), especially with the economy in the shape it is nowadays.

Did you have experience at another provider that didn't ask for an SSN when selling you a subsidized phone?

So ... many people are irresponsible (4, Insightful)

hattig (47930) | more than 5 years ago | (#28418805)

So the gist of this story is that the submitter doesn't understand finance?

A Palm Pre, or any other smartphone, costs a boat load and is subsidised by the carrier, but you need a contract to pay back the cost of the phone. In effect you are getting a $400 - $800 loan, depending on the device, the phone, and the contract/amount it is subsidised.

Now normal loans (not just "car loans" which are just one type of typically unsecured loan) usually have a credit check because it would be stupid to lend money to someone with a credit history that is all arrears and defaults. The poster probably doesn't realise that many, many people actually live life in debt, arrears and defaulting, and that a simple credit check can remove a lot of risk for the phone companies.

The obvious solution in this case is to allow someone to buy the Palm Pre at full price, and then supply them with a rolling contract (without subsidy cost factored in).

Re:So ... many people are irresponsible (1)

hattig (47930) | more than 5 years ago | (#28418867)

Or yes, pre-paying the entire plan should be an option (even if you have to wait a week for the payment to be properly cleared). Sadly the in-store person won't have the power, nor will her direct manager. I guess that this option is so rarely requested that it hasn't been created as an option in the sales systems. However it does give the phone company money up-front which is preferable to getting it spread out over a couple of years.

As someone in the UK, our credit checks are done on name and address, not a state-supplied identity number (not yet anyway). I don't see why your government ID number should be given out to non-government entities, especially if that number can be easily used for fraud. Can't T-Mobile run a credit check on name + address?

Re:So ... many people are irresponsible (3, Insightful)

noidentity (188756) | more than 5 years ago | (#28418917)

So the gist of this story is that the submitter doesn't understand finance? A Palm Pre [...] costs a boat load and is subsidised by the carrier, but you need a contract to pay back the cost of the phone. In effect you are getting a $400 - $800 loan [...]

So the gist of your post is that you don't read the story? In particular, this part:

I offered several other options, including [...] placing the maximum deposit that Sprint requires from people with poor credit ($500) [...]

Re:So ... many people are irresponsible (1)

hattig (47930) | more than 5 years ago | (#28419031)

Yes, I followed up with another post once I got through the submitter's whining. It does seem rather inflexible on T-Mobile's part to not even allow someone to pay up front in order to skip the credit check.

The issue isn't the credit check though, it's with providing the SSN. Now if T-Mobile's customer systems are keyed on SSN, then there is a major problem - and I think this might be the case. Don't you have laws about SSN usage within private companies?

Re:So ... many people are irresponsible (1)

bickerdyke (670000) | more than 5 years ago | (#28419415)

I offered several other options, including [...] placing the maximum deposit that Sprint requires from people with poor credit ($500) [...]

So.. Obviously it's cheaper for them to lose a handful of costumers than to add alternatives to an external Credit-Check to their sales system.

Not an exclusive deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28418809)

All cellular service providers require an SSN for service. It wasn't needed to buy the Pre or because of any exclusive arrangement between Palm & Sprint.

Gross assumption (5, Interesting)

midicase (902333) | more than 5 years ago | (#28418813)

that everyone has a social security number. There is no requirement to have one. I love the stunned looks I get when I reply "I don't have one". I actually have one, but they don't need to know that either.

Re:Gross assumption (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28419129)

I was a customer service rep for sprint some time ago. Although the SSN was the primary way of assigning account numbers, there are some people with accounts that don't have their SSN listed. So the option must be available, otherwise those people wouldn't have accounts. OTOH that was several years ago and they may have updated their policies since then.

Re:Gross assumption (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 5 years ago | (#28419211)

I also would think that a SSN is a Number for your Social Security. It should be used only for that. No excuses, no exception.

Re:Gross assumption (1)

dissy (172727) | more than 5 years ago | (#28419321)

I also would think that a SSN is a Number for your Social Security. It should be used only for that. No excuses, no exception.

It is really confusing actually. If you believe the social security department, Sprint should be fined bundles of cash each time they ask this question of someone. If you believe the real world however, your SSN is the country wide standard identification number for you.

The back of my SSN card clearly states it is a crime to use that number for any purposes outside of social security, and is not to be used for identification purposes.

I keep my original card at home in a safe. This has always been 'best practices' recommended by the social security department.

http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/10002.html#protect [ssa.gov]

From their own website:

Giving your number is voluntary even when you are asked for the number directly. If requested, you should ask:

        * Why your number is needed;
        * How your number will be used;
        * What happens if you refuse; and
        * What law requires you to give your number.

The answers to these questions can help you decide if you want to give your Social Security number. The decision is yours

I'm thinking I need to create a front/back print out of this card, but both sides are a copy of the back side :P
Then hand that out whenever I am asked for it.

Re:Gross assumption (5, Informative)

SkyDude (919251) | more than 5 years ago | (#28419431)

that everyone has a social security number. There is no requirement to have one. I love the stunned looks I get when I reply "I don't have one". I actually have one, but they don't need to know that either.

You're correct that an SSN is not required, but assuming you are employed, your employer IS required to file taxes in your name and that requires an SSN.

If you are employed, file taxes and wish to take a deduction for your child, the child must have an SSN. Hospitals now routinely fill out and transmit the SSN paper work before your infant even leaves the hospital.

The Exalted One's administration (Obama) recently filed for legislation to "overhaul" the credit card industry, but AFAIK, never touched the SSN requirement. Why? Because the banking lobby is one of the most powerful in Washington.

On the front of your SSN card it says "Not For Identification", yet businesses have routinely done so for decades. It's time to put a stop to this abuse and require business to establish a secure option to the SSN. Losing control of your SSN is handing over the keys to the castle. If businesses can't manage to secure CC numbers, how can we trust them to secure this most important number?

NOBODY gets my SSN. (0)

blcamp (211756) | more than 5 years ago | (#28418861)

Michigan has very strict SSN disclosure laws, and while IANALNPOOTV, I have to wonder if this requirement is even lawful.

Re:NOBODY gets my SSN. (1)

Dredd13 (14750) | more than 5 years ago | (#28418961)

Yes, it's lawful, because at the end of the day, the carrier is extending you a line of credit even if that amount is not disclosed (ie., the ability to rack up usage charges, roaming charges, etc., for which they will bill you later). And there isn't an SSN Disclosure Law on the books that would tell a creditor "you can't have the SSN to do a credit-check first".

Re:NOBODY gets my SSN. (1)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 5 years ago | (#28419171)

Except if you're not into taking a credit along with a service, you should be able to pay all the fees up front, no questions asked. I don't want your credit. I want the device.

AFAIK every credit in the world has an option of paying it whole now and here. In case of "open credits" (like a phone contracts) it may be associated with punitive charges for "breach of contract", but they have no right to refuse to nullify your credit, if you're willing to pay in full.

OTOH, how much for a Pre on e-bay?

Re:NOBODY gets my SSN. (1)

Dredd13 (14750) | more than 5 years ago | (#28419243)

If you're talking about a "pre-paid" service, where after you run out of pre-paid minutes, the phone stops working, sure, that's one thing.

But as far as I'm aware, that isn't an option for the Pre yet.

Re:NOBODY gets my SSN. (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 5 years ago | (#28419435)

Prepay is an option for every phone in existence. Though it may be quite expensive.

Instructions:

1. Buy phone and sign up to contract. DO NOT LEAVE THE STORE.
2. Terminate the contract right there and then. You'll have to buy out the whole 18-24 months line rental on the spot but you keep the phone.
3. If necessary, get the phone unlocked.
4. Buy a prepaid sim card.

Re:NOBODY gets my SSN. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28419233)

while IANALNPOOTV

Hey man, what you do to your TV is your business.

(* Yeah, I don't play a lawyer on TV either.)

Slow news day? (1)

WillyDavidK (977353) | more than 5 years ago | (#28418883)

This is definitely not something new. All models of the iPhone have required a credit check as well, and this is pretty much standard procedure in the mobile industry. I guess it's a slow news day.

Land of the free (4, Funny)

Zouden (232738) | more than 5 years ago | (#28418993)

Welcome to America, land of the free*

*terms and conditions apply. See in store for details.

SSN required? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28419039)

Why the hell do you need nuclear submarine just to buy a phone?

It's worse over here (2, Informative)

dalmiroy2k (768278) | more than 5 years ago | (#28419045)

I live in Argentina and in order to legally buy a cellphone you need (to have and) show your DNI (ID) and not only that, they also do 2 photocopies of it.(The store keeps one archived and the other goes to the government for investigation).
A lot of people are actually banned from buying equipment or new cell lines, so they often go to the black market to fulfill their needs.
Regardless of that, I only use my D.N.I. (National ID document) for voting and bank related paperwork. For general ID we got a CI (ID card) that according to the law we should carry it at all times). Oh, also we need a driving license if you are driving so there goes ID # 3.

Simple Solution: buy from overseas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28419067)

When the palm pre is available in other countries (europe, etc), just order one over the internet from there - no SSN necessary.

I'm sure if you pay a bit more that you will be able to get one that is not locked to any carrier.

How much is your privacy worth?

I've been told "$500 deposit required if you do not have an SSN" by T-Mobile (and you want a contract service.) So add $500 to any phone. For satellite TV, similar deal: $300 premium to get service from DirectTV without supplying an SSN (which has been refunded over time.)

If you think about it, the problem for the ocmpany is risk management and they often accept cash "bribes" to convince them that you're not risky.

Re:Simple Solution: buy from overseas (0)

nsayer (86181) | more than 5 years ago | (#28419221)

Well, except that an overseas phone won't work here in the US, unless it's a GSM variant, and then you have to choose between T-mobile and AT&T, and that only works if the phone is GSM *and* includes support for the US bands. I've not used non-US phones, so I am not sure how much of the above is a given.

Re:Simple Solution: buy from overseas (1)

_Shad0w_ (127912) | more than 5 years ago | (#28419437)

Most of the world was using GSM long before the US started, we're all used to international roaming. Including bits of Africa.

The band issue may still be relevant, although my last three phones have all be tri-band, so included the bands the US uses; most phones in the UK were dual band at one point, no idea if they still are.

Patriot Act (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28419085)

This is probably the result of the "Know thy User" clause in the Patriot Act.

Try 000-00-0000 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28419139)

Some time ago I was in a Sprint store when a customer with no SSN wanted to start a contract. The rep didn't know how to handle it, so she called a support number. The solution? She was told to enter all zeros and that the only consequence would be the new customer would have to pay the maximum security deposit.

Things may have changed, but it seems more likely that the rep was just to lazy to find out the real solution.

That said, I despise Sprint and always try to steer friends and family away from their service.

Incompetent, irrelevant and immaterial (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28419181)

As many have described here, the SSN wasn't require to buy the phone. And as Perry Mason would say, this story is "incompetent, irrelevant and immaterial."

Just give them a fake one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28419215)

That's what I did to AT&T. The funny thing was that later I had to identify myself on the phone and they asked for the last 4 digits. Whoops!

It turned out ok though, I eventually remembered the fake one I gave them. Turns out the last 4 digits were the same as the first 4 of my credit card. I'm apparently very bad at making up random numbers on the fly...

This is why exclusivity deals are a bad idea (1)

Davidge (71204) | more than 5 years ago | (#28419229)

Considering that most modern democratic nations in the western world tend to subscribe to the free-market capitalistic world-view, I really don't understand how mobile carriers get away with these exclusivity deals. Not only are they tantamount to a monopoly in a particular market, but they constitute collusion between the manufacturer and the carrier.
Where are the consumer watchdogs ? Where are the anti-competition commissions ? Why isn't something being done about this anti-competitive behaviour ?

Competition commission not interested (2, Interesting)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 5 years ago | (#28419301)

You can buy smart phones from many different suppliers. There is no monopoly. A monopoly would only arise if one smartphone had a unique and essential feature that none of the others did. There is nothing in capitalism per se that is against vertical integration. If for instance a carrier bought Nokia, it is conceivable that there would be a competition issue in markets where Nokia had a sufficiently large market share, because of the cost of entry of competitors, but if there were several well established suppliers with broadly similar market shares, this would not be anti-competitive.

Since in this case (Palm pre) there are competitors from just about every other manufacturer, and it is a new product, it is not an issue.

Here's something worse (4, Interesting)

__david__ (45671) | more than 5 years ago | (#28419249)

When I tried to sign up for Verizon's wireless data service they wouldn't let me pass the credit check without a land line. I tried to tell them I didn't have a land line but they couldn't cope with that. Eventually the girl at the counter gave her sister's apartment number to the credit check guys (she didn't have a land line either). Got to love unbending bureaucracy.

buy in a state with consumer protection (4, Informative)

irtza (893217) | more than 5 years ago | (#28419373)

http://www.consumersunion.org/pub/core_financial_services/004801.html [consumersunion.org] Apparently in some states, they should not be able to do this. Of course I may not understand the full extent of the law as it applies, but it seems to me that this is a consumer product and they are refusing to sell based off of a lack of social security num...

Credit Rating Agencies in the US... (4, Insightful)

shabble (90296) | more than 5 years ago | (#28419429)

It is not beyond the wit of the credit reference agencies to identify a US citizen from stuff other than the (it appears horribly abused) SSN?

I mean, if Experian can manage it in the UK (Name, Address, DOB is usually enough to identify you with the CRA,) why can't they do it in the US?

Or is this just simply laziness on the part of the CRAs?

Re:Credit Rating Agencies in the US... (1)

mikelieman (35628) | more than 5 years ago | (#28419599)

Or is the vendor getting a discount from the CRA because they've agreed to provide a reliable source of validated data?

Wireless Credit Checks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28419521)

Most carriers do not require a SSN to do a credit check. However, if they fail to find credit history without one you would be required to pay a security deposit. Since it tends to be a lot of work or time consuming on the reps side they often tell customers it is required. If you don't want to give it, escalate to a manager or find another store.

And then there are people like me... (0)

Photo_Nut (676334) | more than 5 years ago | (#28419529)

I bought an iPhone this weekend - it was my father's day gift from my wife. AT&T needed my driver's license, SS#, and payment.

It was what they required to make the purchase, so that's the information I gave them. I didn't think anything of it other than that it took a while. But in the end, I had a new internet utility that doubled as a phone and an iPod, and I love it. It's a great gadget.

You may lament that they require your SS#, but it's the people like me who simply don't care for the hassle that make it hard for the people like you.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?