A “Social Security Number” is a unique nine-digit number issued to U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and temporary residents of the United States. The Social Security Number (also referred to as an “SSN”) is issued to people in the United States by the Social Security Administration, and is used to identify people for tax and other purposes. It is frequently used as identification for purposes of opening bank accounts, including many prepaid debit card accounts.
The Social Security number (SSN) was created in 1936 for the sole purpose of tracking the earnings histories of U.S. workers, for use in determining Social Security benefit entitlement and computing benefit levels. Since then, use of the SSN has expanded substantially. Today the SSN may be the most commonly used numbering system in the United States. As of December 2008, the Social Security Administration (SSA) had issued over 450 million original SSNs, and nearly every legal resident of the United States had one. The SSN’s very universality has led to its adoption throughout government and the private sector as a chief means of identifying