A reader had this question in response to our article on how to freeze your credit. (You can click here to read that article)

“When you freeze your credit report you have to give out social security numbers. This is how the Equifax security breach occurred with social security numbers being compromised! What is the alternative to this? There should be a solution?”

The fact is, that if you’ve applied for a loan or taken out a credit card, the credit reporting agencies likely already have your Social Security Numbers. It’s how they identify you since it’s unique, unlike names or birthdates.

The Equifax data breach involved crooks getting into unsecured files containing personal information. While it’s unnerving to think about companies with access to your personal information being so careless, credit bureaus do require that information to do their jobs.

Other companies that will want your SSN are banks, credit card companies, insurance companies, and anyone required to report dealings to the IRS.

You should always be very careful about handing out that information. If you’re online, make sure you’re at the real site and haven’t been tricked into going somewhere else. Certainly never just click on a link in an email to provide that information.

Bottom line, if you’re going to freeze your credit, you’ll have to offer up your SSN. Same goes true for taking out a loan or applying for any kind of credit.