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Last Four digits California

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  • Last Four digits California

    Hello. I am responsible for HR at my company. For several years we have used the last four digits of the employee's social security number as their timeclock and building alarm codes. Both systems are maintained by HR/Payroll. The numbers/passcodes are not shared with anyone but the employee.

    I was informed by an employee that this practice "is against the law." I understand my/our responsibility to data protection. I have not found a law that addresses using a portion of the social for these purposes.

    Thanks for your help.

  • #2
    This is going to be a VERY soft answer. Federal law restricts the use of the SSN to certain very specific purposes (not what you mentioned). State law cannot undo federal law, so there is nothing the state says which can make these federal laws go away.

    Now for the very specific example of the XXX-XX-9999 format I can see how to formulate an argument going either way regarding legality. I have heard nothing specific from IRS/SSA/et al on this issue, so that is another way of saying whatever the court says goes. And there are a lot of courts, until/unless SCOTUS weights in, which as far as I know they have not.

    I was at one company that did this, the issue came up and my answer is "do you really want us to be the test case for this issue, spend a bunch a money in court and maybe lose"? After some discussion, we moved off of this method to a consecutively assigned employee number. I am not saying that is required, but it might be. The employee does have an argument, and they can complain to IRS/SSA for free. Of course, Trump laid off most of those workers, so the risk is arguably not what it was. CA also might have a rule. They cannot reverse a federal rule, but they can add their own.
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
    Philip K. **** (1928-1982)


    • #3
      I would agree with DAW. I don't THINK this would be illegal since you are not using the entire SSN, and you could go the route of telling your self proclaimed legal expert to show you where it says that it is.

      But, this is a why take the risk to me as well. Depending on how hard it is to change the existing system, I would consider changing this protocol.


      • #4
        I agree with the others -- that said, it would be very easy to create a formula/algorithm off of the last four (1st digit minus1, 2nd digit minus 2, 3rd digit plus 3, 4th digit -4, etc) to have a generated code that isn't random, but yet has a known pattern (that a few in charge might need to know)


        • #5
          Another Option

          Another option is to let the employee in question chose his/her own 'code'.


          • #6

            Thanks all for your input and help. I think in the end, it is not necessarily illegal but does not appear to be best practice. I will consider changing!


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