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How to Stop Businesses Storing SSNs Indefinitely

The Angry Mick (632931) writes | more than 5 years ago

Privacy 0

The Angry Mick writes "My wife and I recently moved, and during the course of providing change of address information to the many companies we do business with, I asked each if they were storing a full Social Security number in their databases, and, if so, could they remove it or replace it with an alternate identifier. Neither the experience nor the results were, shall we say, enjoyable.

On the positive side of the spectrum, some companies were more than willing to make a change, even going so far as to offer suggestions for a suitable alternate such as a driver's license number. In the middle were companies that made things a little more difficult, requiring several steps up the management tree to be able to speak to someone with some actual authority to address the issue.

Then there was DirectTV. This company not only flatly refused to consider the suggestion, but also informed me that even if I were to discontinue service with them, they still intended to keep my full SSN on file indefinitely. This latter troubled me because, to my mind, if I cease being their customer they should no longer be entitled to an extremely personal identifier. There is no logical reason for them to retain SSNs indefinitely, and I'm not particular keen on the idea of being left vulnerable to identity theft should they have experience any security breaches at any future point in my life.

So, my questions to the Slashdot community are: 1) Has anyone else tried getting your social security numbers replaced or removed in corporate databases, and what were your experiences like? And 2) short of Armageddon, is there any way to force a company to erase your SSNs after you cease doing business with them, or is this a job for a lawyer or regulatory body?"

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