Car buyer's SSN a Homeland Security requirement?

yadax3September 1, 2009


I didn't get any responses on the 'Cars' forum so I thought I'd try here.

I've read in Consumer Reports that you should never provide your Social Security Number to an automobile dealer unless they are arranging financing for you. However, when I went to pick up my new car last week (credit union check in hand) the finance guy asked me for my Social Security Number and when I refused to give it to him he said he had to have it for Homeland Security purposes. Since my car had been on order for more than 2 months and all I wanted to finish the paperwork and get out of there, I gave in and provided my SSN. Since then I've been beating myself up. I checked my credit report this morning and it doesn't appear he used my SSN to run my credit but I still want to determine whether or not I was scammed before I complete any 'customer satisfaction' surveys. Of course, I also want to warn others.

Thanks for any insights you can offer,


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Talk to the manager and ask what the dealer's policy is. It could be the finance person is getting information that is not needed or making statements out of line. We just bought a small truck, and yes we gave the finance person our SS # but we did the financing thru them as it was the best avaiable at the time. By the way, it takes awhile for any information to show up on the credit report. As you are concerned, as I would be, go back and talk to the finance manager and the manager/owner of the dealership. If you do not get satisfaction, go the the maker such as Ford, Chev etc.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2009 at 4:44PM
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I thought any transactions over $10,000 have to have a paper trail.
SSN would be a good trail...

    Bookmark   September 1, 2009 at 5:27PM
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Patriot Act requirements for the reason western pa luann says.

All transactions over 10,000 are tracable.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2009 at 5:33PM
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I'll third that in case you need more reassurance...yes, all transactions over $10K need to be tracked. Deposits, travelers checks, everything...due to the Patriot Act.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2009 at 6:34PM
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We bought a new Camry a few months ago, paid cash, no financing. I do not remember giving my ssn. But it's a few months ago, and maybe I just forgot what we did. I know there was a lot of paperwork. Or maybe it was not needed because there was no financing involved.

The papertrail requirement for transaction of $10K or over may trigger a request for the ssn. It would be nice to find out one way or the other.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2009 at 10:02PM
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Buying a car is stressful enough. The car dealers would love to have you think that you are required to provide them with this extremely valuable information but never seem to have the documentation on hand to back their reasons. Ask them for this 'proof' in writing. If they are following the law, they will have some paperwork they can refer to.

Unless your financing, the only reason car dealers could possibly have for wanting this is for marketing purposes. The Department of Homeland Security, The Treasury Department AND the IRS do NOT require you to provide this to a CAR DEALER!

Your State Attorney General is the appropriate entity to talk to. They oversee the car dealer/auto industry. Ask them this question and ask them to provide their response in writing! ;)

We went through this very thing when we bought a new car last year. Paid cash, no financing. We shopped around at several dealerships who ALL insisted we were going to have to provide our SS# in order to complete the sale. They gave us the same BS about Homeland security needing this, blah, blah. Oddly enough, they were unable to provide any documentation to back this up. (We all know that car dealers/salesman are as honest as Eagle scouts, hmm?!)

In any case, we told them we had no intentions of giving up this kind of sensitive information to a company that was NOT issuing us credit/financing, or was NOT a government entity. We said we would provide this info to the BMV (bureau of motor vehicles) instead. (If you have a drivers license on file in the state where you are purchasing, then the BMV already has your SS# on file.)

They still insisted on having this so rather than argue, we decided to avoid the hassle completely and have our corporation purchase the car instead. The owner of the dealership was so aggravated that he wasn't able to snag our private, personal info that he refused to send us service agreements or ANY follow-up regarding the maintenance of our brand new car.

Big deal. In the long run its going to hurt them more than us. They lost our service business, any future business, as well as the word of mouth 'advertising' we are sharing with anyone who wants to listen. We also contacted the car maker to let them know how we were treated.

Car dealer should skip SS number
By Bob Dyer- Akron Beacon Journal
Jul. 25, 2008

Car dealerships prime target for identity thieves
By Donna Harris
July 31, 2004

    Bookmark   September 6, 2009 at 4:35PM
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If it is a well known dealership I would not worry about it. I would not have given it a thought, would have just told him.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2009 at 9:24PM
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IRS Publication 1544 talks about what is reportable. From the sound of it they do not have to report it since you paid with a credit unioin check the credit union would be the one required to report it if needed. Note there may be some other rule that says they do. See "What is Cash" on the second page. HTH

Here is a link that might be useful: IRS Pub 1544

    Bookmark   September 7, 2009 at 3:48AM
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"If it is a well known dealership I would not worry about it. I would not have given it a thought, would have just told him."

Whether the dealership is well known or not is besides the point. You might want to see how comfortable you feel about giving up info to a dealership without a thought, AFTER you read what an ex-General Manager of a popular dealership has to say about hiring sales people:

Car Buying Scams by Peter Humlecker

"The car business is one of the few jobs left where a guy can get out of prison one day and the next, have a job selling cars. It's true. The bottom line is if you have talent selling cars then no one cares about your past convictions. Some dealers have gotten stricter on their hiring policies, especially in the smaller cities and towns. However, in the larger cities, if you can sell cars and make the dealership money, you will get hired. One of the running jokes at one dealership was that "James," not his real name could stab someone to death on the showroom floor and the owner of the dealership would run out and pay for the very best attorney for James so he would not lose any sales by James going to prison!"

The FTC says that identity theft is still the number most reported fraud complaint for this year (as well as the past several years). Identity thieves can ruin your credit rating, affect your health coverage and get you arrested if they use your name for a crime. The average number of hours victims spend repairing the damage caused by identity theft is 330 hours.

I hope you never have to experience the hassle of clearing your good name because you trusted someone (or some business) who didn't deserve it.

Links that might be useful:

    Bookmark   September 7, 2009 at 6:08PM
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