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Old August 15th, 2012, 08:10 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Why does Verizon require my social security number?

I was ready to buy. Had just told the sales clerk at the Verizon store that I would pay $600 (now! I was NOT asking for any credit) to buy a Samsung Galaxy S3 phone, and take a no-contract monthly mobile telecommunications service arrangement.

The transaction stopped when I was asked for my social security number. The clerk already had my driver's licence, and had apparently scanned it and retained the image. I asked the clerk to check with his supervisor and confirm Verizon really wanted to lose this sale. The answer was yes, the Verizon software REQUIRES the SSN. They won't sell me a phone without me revealing my social security number.

This is America. Free markets, and all that. I support Verizon's ability to set that policy: they can choose to not sell to me unless I provide them x, y and $. But of course I also support my ability as a consumer to say "no thanks" to the exchange, and walk away, which I did.

So my question is: Why? Why does Verizon do this?

In my case, it is hard to say that it is credit risk for the monthly bill I would have to pay. They would have made a gross profit margin of several hundred dollars on the sale of the $600 Android phone to me. Then, even if I was some sort of scofflaw and tried to bilk them of the monthly fee, they could easily shut me down and still be dollars-ahead on the sale of the expensive piece of consumer electronics.

I don't get the logic on the Verizon end. Why leave my cash transaction unmade just because they want (and perhaps need, for many folks who aren't fronting the large purchase with so much cash) more identifying info?

Does anyone understand this? Do other carriers require this?

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Old August 15th, 2012, 08:58 AM   #2 (permalink)
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If you're that concerned about it, get a prepaid phone and buy minute cards at Walmart or other retailers. I don't think you'll find a major carrier that won't want to run a credit check on you, no matter the circumstances of your signing up for the contract.
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Old August 15th, 2012, 10:02 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I don't think you'll find a major carrier that won't want to run a credit check on you, no matter the circumstances of your signing up for the contract.
I see the OPs concern. If you are buying the phone outright, you are not entering a contract but going month to month. They should not need to do a credit check if you are not entering a contract.
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Old August 17th, 2012, 02:44 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Do ALL other major carriers really required SSN's, even if you are no credit risk to them as I indicated in the original post?

I'm really only interested if you have first-hand knowledge of what T-Mobile, AT&T, etc. require.
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Old August 17th, 2012, 06:05 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Define month to month.

I will explain.

If by month to month you really mean pay as you go and you buy whatever minutes and data you need prior to using them, then they should not need your SSN.

If, however, you mean you use the phone as you see fit and they bill you without a contract then I can understand the need for a SSN. Here's why. I'm not saying YOU would do this but some people would. Let's say you get 1500 minutes with 4GB of data. There are additional charges for overages on both. On month 1, you use 4000 minutes and 12 GB of data. VZW sends you your bill for $500 or whatever and you don't pay it.

Sure you bought the phone for cash but they made their money back plus a "small" profit there. They still carry a risk that you will run up a huge bill and then ditch them. The SSN allows them to attach it to your credit report if they need to.

As someone said, the only way to truly avoid this is to go full on prepaid. Sorry.
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Old August 17th, 2012, 06:28 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Welcome to Android Forums, Nemo2.
We are so glad you have joined us here.

I have moved this thread into the Verizon forum, so that others who use Verizon can help answer this question.
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Old August 17th, 2012, 11:51 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Techgeek81 View Post
Define month to month.

I will explain.

If by month to month you really mean pay as you go and you buy whatever minutes and data you need prior to using them, then they should not need your SSN.

If, however, you mean you use the phone as you see fit and they bill you without a contract then I can understand the need for a SSN. Here's why. I'm not saying YOU would do this but some people would. Let's say you get 1500 minutes with 4GB of data. There are additional charges for overages on both. On month 1, you use 4000 minutes and 12 GB of data. VZW sends you your bill for $500 or whatever and you don't pay it.

Sure you bought the phone for cash but they made their money back plus a "small" profit there. They still carry a risk that you will run up a huge bill and then ditch them. The SSN allows them to attach it to your credit report if they need to.

As someone said, the only way to truly avoid this is to go full on prepaid. Sorry.
My wife has been in the credit business for over 30 years and she says Techgeek81 has hit the nail on the head.

Besides Verizon is a huge company and will not open themselves up to a HUGE lawsuit by compromising your SS#.
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Old August 18th, 2012, 10:16 PM   #8 (permalink)
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My wife has been in the credit business for over 30 years and she says Techgeek81 has hit the nail on the head.

Besides Verizon is a huge company and will not open themselves up to a HUGE lawsuit by compromising your SS#.
Not mention that all of this leaves a paper trail which prevents shady people (namely drug cartels) from just buying a lot of phones and re-selling them to clean up money.
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Old August 19th, 2012, 07:30 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Hey TechGeek. Thanks for the input.

Re the "no contract" I mentioned, yes, it was the non-prepaid plan I was considering. And I totally get why you suggest that, in that case, a mobile user could rack up a large bill, and then ditch them. If I (or anyone) were an unscrupulous customer, that is theoretically possible.

But there is an important distinction to be made: that bill that the bad actor racks up is a "price", not a "cost." It does not cost Verizon anywhere near the $500 you mention, it only costs them their "marginal cost" of providing any customer the service, which is much less than the $500. For any minutes used domestically, at non-peak times, the marginal cost of this one bad actor talking away, or downloading a few GB of data, is virtually zero.

Since Verizon would have made hundreds of dollars on the cash sale of the electronics, the risk of Verizon going upside down, and actually expending more cost then they make in revenue on this particular customer is very very small.

As I said before, Verizon has every right do ask for the customer to jump through any hoops they want to when offering me a product for sale; the customer then has every right to say "no thanks", which is what I did.

So the question remains, as a matter of running a profitable company, why does Verizon turn away a multi-hundred dollar sure profit, with an admittedly very small risk that a "bad actor" could run up a bill (which reflects Verizons "price", not their "cost") before Verizon could, quite easily and efficiently, shut them down?

Cheers,
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Originally Posted by Techgeek81 View Post
Define month to month.

I will explain.

If by month to month you really mean pay as you go and you buy whatever minutes and data you need prior to using them, then they should not need your SSN.

If, however, you mean you use the phone as you see fit and they bill you without a contract then I can understand the need for a SSN. Here's why. I'm not saying YOU would do this but some people would. Let's say you get 1500 minutes with 4GB of data. There are additional charges for overages on both. On month 1, you use 4000 minutes and 12 GB of data. VZW sends you your bill for $500 or whatever and you don't pay it.

Sure you bought the phone for cash but they made their money back plus a "small" profit there. They still carry a risk that you will run up a huge bill and then ditch them. The SSN allows them to attach it to your credit report if they need to.

As someone said, the only way to truly avoid this is to go full on prepaid. Sorry.
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Old August 19th, 2012, 07:33 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Your wife is correct, there is some risk.

See my response to TechGeek. The risk is extremely small that a "bad actor" user could run up a bill that would exceed the hundreds of dollars of pure profit Verizon made on the cash sale of the $600 smart phone. That is profit left on the table when Verizon implements their "must-collect-social-security-number-in-all-cases" policy, regardless of the circumstances of the particular sale.
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Old August 19th, 2012, 07:40 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Your wife is correct, there is some risk.

See my response to TechGeek. The risk is extremely small that a "bad actor" user could run up a bill that would exceed the hundreds of dollars of pure profit Verizon made on the cash sale of the $600 smart phone.
Not everyone buys a full price phone through Verizon. I just bought a phone through Swappa, VRZ gets nothing from that. I could very easily run amok on my new SS#-less contract and then ditch the phone and contract. If it was that easy to do I'd be willing to bet a lot of people would do it.
I can understand that there has to be some safety net in place. I agree with you in theory but also see where VRZ is coming from in practice.
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Old August 19th, 2012, 08:46 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Yeah, absolutely correct. Verizon would, perhaps, not have the same economic incentive in all cases, as the risk would no doubt be higher in the case you mention.

However, my entire point is only about this particular deal. I maintain Verizon is leaving money on the table, by blindly following their own rulz, and leaving no discretion for a case like mine.
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Old August 19th, 2012, 10:43 AM   #13 (permalink)
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1) you're just assuming they are making $x00's in profit off the face value sale. Their business model doesn't require that, they just need to break even. Verizon makes it's money off phone service, not phone sales.

2) Even if they did make $300 profit on the upfront sale, it would not be impossible to rack up $300+ in service in a month. Overseas calls to Eastern Europe get expensive.

3) Verizon has many cheaper phones, and likely would want a single policy for this sort of thing. Since you CAN buy a phone for $100 from them full price, their policy is going to want some way of identifying you.

4) Verizon wants to make money. They are not going to say "I guess it's ok that you racked up hundreds of dollars in unpaid service charges, since we made a little more money off the phone itself." They're a business, if you owe them lots of money they are going to want to know how to pin the bill to you. Even if they already made lots of money off you.


Lets put it this way. The vast majority of people who steal phones aren't looking for the phone itself, they are looking to use the service. The sell/give the phone to use to make "free" calls back to the criminal colleagues back in the old country. Do you think Verizon would open themselves up to criminals just walking into the store, laying a little cash down, walking out with a phone to do whatever they want with for 6 weeks until the bill goes past due, at which point they unload the phone?


Try a prepaid service.
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Old August 20th, 2012, 01:23 PM   #14 (permalink)
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VZW doesn't allow their average low level employee to play "lets make a deal" when it comes to this and some other policies. WHY? Because they simply don't trust them to make the right decision.

#1 Looking at it from their perspective. What do you have to hide? Do you have a history of not paying your bills?

#2 If you don't pay they want to report it.

#3 This would be a really easy way for a sales rep to commit commission fraud (even if it is short term).

All that other stuff that the OP mentioned isn't even factored into their decision. Nobody wants to be the one to approve this outside of policy and take the chance of it going bad. If the account gets written off and several thousand dollars are owed, all they are going to look at is how much money they had to write off. Their superiors aren't going to care how much money they made prior to the write off because none of that matters. They are going to have to justify why they made that decision, and their job may be on the line if their answer isn't good enough.

Stop trying to make sense of this. It's typical corporate america and employees covering their ass.
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Old August 21st, 2012, 01:06 AM   #15 (permalink)
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So Nemo2, how did you resolve this problem?

Where did you end up going to get this resolved to your satisfaction?
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Old November 11th, 2012, 09:41 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Bump.


Customer Agreement | Verizon Wireless


What Are Verizon Wireless' Rights to Limit or End Service or End this Agreement?

(h) provide credit information we can't verify; or



Your customer agreement, that you would be agreeing to by putting an account into your name, even if it's on the month to month basis. VZW want's to verify your credit info and your identity. It's that simple.


The customer agreement doesn't state why. On the outside looking in, I can think of several likely scenarios.



1. You have horrible credit and will never pay your bill. Your first bill can be pro rated for up to 2 months of service and you can get an extension for a payment arrangement that could lead your services covering 2-3 months without spending a dime. VZW doesn't care if they are worth a ton of money. They are in business to provide the best service possible and turn a profit. They aren't looking to write off money here and there for non paid bills.

2. You have an account in collection, non paid, etc with VZW. Why will they provide more service to you if you owe them money?

3. If your account doesn't go paid, they are going to sell it off to collections. It gets attached to your social and your credit.

4. It's to stop identity theft and fraud. Would you want anyone being able to go to a VZW store, show a Photo ID/Drivers License and starting up a contract. If that is the case, I can just walk into a store with a fake id and have the bills be sent to you and have you be liable for it.
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Old November 11th, 2012, 09:42 PM   #17 (permalink)
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So Nemo2, how did you resolve this problem?

Where did you end up going to get this resolved to your satisfaction?


If he didn't provide a social, they cant verify his credit info. I can bank on the fact that a security deposit would have been required.
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Old November 11th, 2012, 09:48 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Yeah, absolutely correct. Verizon would, perhaps, not have the same economic incentive in all cases, as the risk would no doubt be higher in the case you mention.

However, my entire point is only about this particular deal. I maintain Verizon is leaving money on the table, by blindly following their own rulz, and leaving no discretion for a case like mine.


VZW isn't leaving money on the table. Their credit department are minimizing risks. Imagine if everybody and anybody was able to get service with VZW. Not everyone and anyone can afford it. Plus people aren't going to be responsible with bills if they know not paying isn't going to affect them. Imagine if you owed 1000 bucks to VZW but they cant tie it to you and just shut off your account. You can go to ATT< Spring, T Mobile ,whomever. They are a business. How many businesses do you know provide service up front without payment? Not many. Thats why VZW associates your social security # and your credit file to the account. You go to a store, you are paying with cash, check or credit but you are paying. You go to a restaurant, they provide service and then you pay. If you dont pay, they call the cops and prosecute you.


You dont want to have post paid service, go prepaid.
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Old November 21st, 2012, 11:06 AM   #19 (permalink)
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So here's an added twist to this plot. I understand why they need to do a credit check...every carrier does. But I was asked to present my _physical_ Social security card. I have excellent credit, currently have a phone plan with ATT, no fraud on my credit report, etc. I have no idea why they would flag me.

Additionally, I haven't had my actual SocSec card since I was 16. I haven't needed it in 25 yrs. In fact, the SocSec website says "you don't need a card, just the number." and "you shouldn't carry the card with you."

And yet Verizon wireless won't let me start a service with them without this. I had planned to buy to Galaxy s3 phones, family plan with 4GB service, and switching from ATT. You'd think they want my business. But they are making it nearly impossible for me.

(BTW, before someone tells me to just go get a new card, you have to send original documents of your drivers license and birth certificate or passport to the SocSec office...which will take a few weeks. Original documents! ...which is also friggin crazy.)

I've never heard of this before. Anyone else?
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Old November 21st, 2012, 11:17 AM   #20 (permalink)
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So here's an added twist to this plot. I understand why they need to do a credit check...every carrier does. But I was asked to present my _physical_ Social security card. I have excellent credit, currently have a phone plan with ATT, no fraud on my credit report, etc. I have no idea why they would flag me.

Additionally, I haven't had my actual SocSec card since I was 16. I haven't needed it in 25 yrs. In fact, the SocSec website says "you don't need a card, just the number." and "you shouldn't carry the card with you."

And yet Verizon wireless won't let me start a service with them without this. I had planned to buy to Galaxy s3 phones, family plan with 4GB service, and switching from ATT. You'd think they want my business. But they are making it nearly impossible for me.

(BTW, before someone tells me to just go get a new card, you have to send original documents of your drivers license and birth certificate or passport to the SocSec office...which will take a few weeks. Original documents! ...which is also friggin crazy.)

I've never heard of this before. Anyone else?
Several years ago I worked in the stores. I seen this a handful on times. They only do it if they suspect fraud or have conflicting information. Either give up the SS card, ask if they'll accept anything other than the card, or just move on without VZW service. Oh yeah, and recheck your credit reports too.
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Old November 21st, 2012, 12:30 PM   #21 (permalink)
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This sounds fishy! I have never needed my ssc for anything either. I would call Verizon and speak with a different person. They should only need the number.
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Old November 21st, 2012, 01:03 PM   #22 (permalink)
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If the phone rep is telling you the sand thing as the guys in the store, it's almost certainly not a fraud attempt. This is definitely not standard practice for most people, so I can only assume there was since kind of red flag that they either suspect you aren't who you claim to be, our there is a problem with your credit history. Definitely recheck your credit reports.

But as a private business, of they decide they want to see your ssc before doing business with you, that is there right.

And in the future, it's better to only make a post in one thread, instead of having multiple threads on the same exact topic. It just makes it easier for others to follow, and contribute to each other's posts.
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Old November 21st, 2012, 01:20 PM   #23 (permalink)
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More likely then not your SS # is in use by someone else and not necessarily a stealing your identity thing if your credit reports are all clean.

Also you should have a SS card whether you ever need to actually use it or not, its a good thing to have just like your birth cert. And I would highly recommend going into a office to get a new card instead of doing it all by mail. Works much better.
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Old November 21st, 2012, 01:21 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Oh yeah, and recheck your credit reports too.
That sounds like a really good idea.
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Old November 21st, 2012, 01:30 PM   #25 (permalink)
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https://www.annualcreditreport.com/
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Old November 21st, 2012, 01:48 PM   #26 (permalink)
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i would call customer service one more time, ask to speak with the manager on duty, and if you get a dead end there; ask for the corporate number and speak with someone above that individual to find out why you need to provide all of that information when you clearly shouldn't.
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Old November 21st, 2012, 03:20 PM   #27 (permalink)
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i would call customer service one more time, ask to speak with the manager on duty, and if you get a dead end there; ask for the corporate number and speak with someone above that individual to find out why you need to provide all of that information when you clearly shouldn't.
Agree completely that you should get Verizon to tell you why they need your documentation. But just because they usually would require that doesn't mean they don't have good reasons for requiring it now in your case.
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Old November 21st, 2012, 09:57 PM   #28 (permalink)
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Agree completely that you should get Verizon to tell you why they need your documentation. But just because they usually would require that doesn't mean they don't have good reasons for requiring it now in your case.
When I was younger and applied for a job, (30+ years ago) filling in the box on the job application for SS# was good enough. But not so today, my wife is a manager at a Fortune 500 company and all employees when hired MUST present thier actual SS card. They make a machine copy and it goes in the employees permanent file. When my daughter whose in college applied for part time jobs in California, had to show her actual SS card before they would hire her.

I'm guessing all this is a result of identity theft being so high on the list of crimes being commited today. Companies are just protecting themselves.

I also think you won't get anyone to actually verbalize the reason they would be asking to see your actual SS card. This in itself could open them up to a possible lawsuit. They will just say they need to see the card and like someone earlier said, that is their right. Sometimes they will look at the situation as, if the customer doesn't want to show the actual card, there must be a reason and it's safer to do without thier business than to get involved in something possibly "shady".

And to the OP, what if I went into a Verizon store and wanted to buy 3 smartphones and I gave them your SS# and they accepted it without question and opened up an account for me. Then after going a couple months without paying the bills I sold the phones and went to another carrier and you start getting billed for the phones I bought including ETFs, overage charges and such.

My suggestion, prove to Verizon you are who you say you are, get your phones and get on with your life. Oh, and Get a replacement SS card. You're going to need it when you retire and want to start collecting SS. But I agree, don't send in originals, physically take them into a SS office so they are never out of your possesion. The following is a copy and paste from the SS website:

All documents submitted must be either originals or copies certified by the issuing agency. We cannot accept photocopies or notarized copies of documents.

Best of luck to you whatever you decide to do,
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Old November 21st, 2012, 10:16 PM   #29 (permalink)
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So here's an added twist to this plot. I understand why they need to do a credit check...every carrier does. But I was asked to present my _physical_ Social security card. I have excellent credit, currently have a phone plan with ATT, no fraud on my credit report, etc. I have no idea why they would flag me.

Additionally, I haven't had my actual SocSec card since I was 16. I haven't needed it in 25 yrs. In fact, the SocSec website says "you don't need a card, just the number." and "you shouldn't carry the card with you."

And yet Verizon wireless won't let me start a service with them without this. I had planned to buy to Galaxy s3 phones, family plan with 4GB service, and switching from ATT. You'd think they want my business. But they are making it nearly impossible for me.

(BTW, before someone tells me to just go get a new card, you have to send original documents of your drivers license and birth certificate or passport to the SocSec office...which will take a few weeks. Original documents! ...which is also friggin crazy.)

I've never heard of this before. Anyone else?
You can also walk into your local office and fill out a 3 minute form, present your valid documentation and be mailed a new card within 2 weeks without leaving any original documents. Also this isn't just a credit issue, it also has to do with the many, mostly unknown to the general public regarding the war on terror.
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Old November 22nd, 2012, 02:18 PM   #30 (permalink)
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papajaws. Once you have a hold on your credit application with VZW it has to be resolved by their credit review department. Calling and speaking to customer care, store manager or even calling corporate is not going to get you anywhere. That hold is final until it's been updated with the documents required. Once you fax the info over to the credit review department, a rep will review your social security and drivers license to your credit app and make sure it matches before the update of approval. All transactions with vzw goes through them and their word is final for a yes or no.


The reasons why you might be required to fax in your social can be numerous. 1. someone tried using your social security # and start up an account with vzw but was denied. 2. your social security # doesn't match your legal name. 3. you live in a high fraud area which created a flag. 4. they could have random screening and requiring some people to fax in info. 5. you may have a hold/freeze on your credit file to stop potential identity theft.


Your credit application is alot more than just proving your credit information. It's also approval of your identity. It sounds like you called in to VZW and spoke to telesales who did the credit app for you. Would you want to go to a company that just allowed anybody to call in to create a contract, billing, etc and not go through a complete check to verify the person calling in?

I think the 2 main reasons why you are required to fax it in is either living in a high fraud area or a freeze/hold on your social. Have you ever reported a credit card stolen? Placed a freeze on your credit at some point? You might live in an area that had 1 too many identity theft with vzw and that caused the hold.


You can be upset/frustrated all you want but they are looking out for your privacy and best interest by requiring this information.
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