Just having a Social Security number is no longer a symbol of adulthood, the numbers use is no longer confined to working and paying taxes. Government agencies, business and schools rely on Social Security numbers to identify people in their computer systems. Many people receive their Social Security numbers when they start their first job. It is the first step into becoming an American citizen and, to pay taxes. Since the beginning, in 1935, the Social Security number has become more and more important, to make even the simplest purchase, to have to supply one.

However many people are not comfortable with handing over this valuable asset. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has become aware of this growing concern through the years, but unfortunlly there is no law prohibiting their use by business and government. Banks and other financial institutions use this number to report interest earned on accounts to the IRS. Other government agencies use these numbers in computer matching operations to stop fraud and abuse. Although you can't prevent others from asking for the number, it does not give the use the right to access you Social Security records. The privacy of these records is guaranteed, unless by use of the government for health or welfare programs.

Each Social Security number comes in 9 digits, and has 3 parts. The first three digits indicate the state shown in the mailing address on the original application. The lowest numbers were assigned to the New England states, and the number grew higher in the south. But, in recent years, this relationship has been disrupted somewhat by the need to allocate numbers out of sequence as state populations change.

The middle two digits do not really mean anything, but serve to break numbers into blocks. The last four digits represent a straight numerical progression of assigned numbers. There has been over 392 million Social Security numbers distributed by the SSA, and more than five million new members assigned each year. An individual's Social Security number is not just a bunch of random numbers jammed together and given out, it's a valuable asset. Like getting a driver's license, it is symbolic of becoming an adult and an American citizen.