If someone you had just met asked you for your social security number, you would likely not give it to them. What if the same person asked you for your cell phone number? My guess is that you would readily tell them the ten-digit number. After you read this, maybe you won’t be so quick to hand out your number.
The social security number was created in 1936. The original purpose was to assist the nation’s insurance system to create and insure accurate records of those workers covered in that specific program. The originators never would have dreamed it would become a personal identification number for all Americans.
Your cell phone number is not regulated and no companies are mandated to keep it private.
By the early 1960’s, the U.S. government and many corporations could not stop themselves from using the social number as a way to identify people. When mainframe computers developed large digital files on citizens and customers, the key gateway to the information was the social security number. I can still remember my father telling me as a teenager not to carry my social security card in case I lost my wallet. Just memorize it and throw the card away was his admonition. He knew even then that with that number in the wrong hands, only bad things would happen.
Our agency has their own-house computer system called USUNITE. I started it in 1981 with a floppy disc. Other investigative agencies also have their own system. There are also many companies that sell data to our industry if you are properly licensed. All this information is gathered primarily from the three credit bureaus in the United States. Additionally, data can be purchased from cities, counties and States throughout this country. Simply stated, you would be floored by the sheer amount of information that is stored on every person living in America.
For the past 35 years the key to this kingdom of information was your social security number. That is now drastically changing to your cell phone number. The reason is simple. Your cell phone number is also tied to the same portals of information that is aligned with your social security number. The little known secret is the cell phone number is more useful because it is connected to hundreds of databases not affiliated with your social security number. Additionally, your cell number is connected to a device that is almost always with you.
Your cell phone number is increasingly used by private investigators and information brokers as the window to your private information that is maintained by almost all business corporations, financial institutions and (thanks to us) social media networks.
Since your social security number is a legally regulated piece of information, we in the private investigative establishment must operate under very strict rules and regulations. Any deviation of your privacy can render severe civil and criminal sanction and the potential to lose one’s license.
Your cell phone number is not regulated and no companies are mandated to keep it private. Studies indicate that half the U.S. population no longer have a landline. Many citizens in the 20-30 year age bracket have never had a landline. Many people have no credit history and therefore no link to their social security number. On the other hand, most teenagers are equipped with a cell phone number at the early age of thirteen. That number often remains with them for decades providing a detailed digital identification system of information. Be smart with your cell phone number.