Is It Safe To Email Social Security Number? (5 Safety Tips)
By Larry Li
June 24, 2022
Sometimes, you may need to send your Social Security number (SSN) to an employer, financial institution, or family member. With such speed and efficiency, you probably think email is the best way to send your SSN.
But is it safe to email your Social Security number?
You should never send your SSN by email. This is because you can’t guarantee where the email will be stored or passed along after sending it. Furthermore, your SSN is at risk if either email account is hacked. So even if the email transfer is secure and you delete it on your side, there’s still an unknown risk present.
If your SSN falls into the wrong hands, you could be a victim of identity theft and tax refund fraud.
In fact, Social Security Administration fraud caused $148.50 million of total losses in 2021. However, you can use platforms like Trustworthy, a secure digital store platform, to safely send your SSN to others. I’ll speak more about Trustworthy later on in this guide.
In today’s guide, you’ll learn:
An overview of email’s security and encryption
If you should send credit card info through email
Can you send credit card info through email securely
Tips for sending credit card info by email
Email vs Trustworthy for storing credit card info
Email Security & Encryption: Overview
Simply put, email is inherently insecure. Although you log in to your email account with a password, that doesn’t make your email transmissions secure.
When you send an email, it moves through a series of networks and servers to reach the end recipient, often in human-readable text. During this transmission, hackers can intercept your info without detection.
Dr. Catherine J. Ullman, a Senior Information Security Analyst for the University of Buffalo, states,
“email by default is not and was never intended to be a secure mechanism for sending sensitive data.”
There’s no doubt that email is excellent for standard communication and messaging. However, when it comes to private information like Social Security numbers, email doesn’t offer enough security and encryption to keep your data safe.
Should You Send Social Security Number On Email?
Don’t send your Social Security number through email. Unlike paper documents that can be securely filed in a locked drawer, the email can get forwarded and end up in the wrong hands. Furthermore, both email accounts can be compromised and leave your Social Security number exposed.
Although we’d like to think that one-on-one emails are private, this isn’t always the case. For example, are you sure the recipient’s email server is safe? Are you or the recipient using public WiFi where hackers can intercept information?
There are simply too many loopholes and risks that come with sending a Social Security number through email. Furthermore, the consequences of a stolen SSN can be devastating. The thief can commit identity fraud and attempt to collect your government benefits or tax refund. They can also use your SSN to apply for credit cards and residencies.
Can You Send Social Security Number Through Email Securely?
Email was never intended to be a communication channel for sending sensitive information. However, Gmail offers a confidential sending mode that adds an extra bit of security to your email.
Although I highly recommend you avoid sending your SSN through email, Gmail’s confidential mode is better than nothing. This confidential mode removes the recipient’s ability to copy, paste, download, print, or forward your email. However, they can still take screenshots of your messages and attachments.
Furthermore, the confidential mode allows you to set a passcode. If you enable the confidential mode’s SMS passcode, the recipient needs to enter the passcode sent to their phone in order to view the email.
Once you enable password protection, your SSN is protected from account hacks and breaches. However, your SSN is still exposed to server hacks and transmission interceptions. Therefore, there’s no way to guarantee 100% security when you send your SSN through email.
Tips For Sending Social Security Number By Email
If you still want to send your SSN by email, follow this list of best practices. This way, you lower the possibility of your SSN falling into the wrong hands.
1. Be Aware of Scammers
First, it’s essential to verify to whom you’re sending your Social Security number. As I mentioned earlier, Social Security fraud is a prevalent issue across the United States, and many individuals are scammed every day.
You’re only required to give out your SSN is five circumstances:
Filing income taxes
Starting new employment
Conducting business through financial institutions
Applying for a driver’s license
Applying for government benefits
If a different party is asking you to send your SSN, verify the legitimacy of the organization and ask them why they need your SSN.
2. Double Check Before You Hit Send
Before sending off your SSN, ensure you’re sending it to the correct recipient. Make sure you enter the correct email address. Furthermore, you should ask the recipient to enable two-factor authentication on their email account.
There’s a higher chance that you or the recipient's email account is breached than a hacker breaching the email server database. For this reason, it’s important to ensure both of your email accounts are as secure as possible.
In addition to adding two-factor authentication, you should review your device activity. Device activity shows which devices your email is logged in on. If you see any unfamiliar devices, remove them and change your password immediately.
3. Delete the Emails
After you send the email, delete the email from your sent and trash email folders. You should ask the recipient to do the same once they finish using your SSN.
If you don’t delete the email containing your SSN, your private info is left exposed to server breaches and account hacks. However, deleting the email removes visibility and protects your SSN from getting stolen.
4. Send a Partial Social Security Number
Instead of sending your entire Social Security number, you can send a few digits. Then, you can send the other digits in person or through a phone call. A live phone call is a much more secure method of sending your Social Security number because your SSN won’t be kept in text form on any servers.
Unless someone is eavesdropping on your phone call, your SSN is unlikely to be stolen. If you want to send your SSN by telling the recipient in person, the recipient will likely need to write your SSN down. I recommend jotting your SSN on a piece of paper and asking the recipient to shred and recycle the paper when they’re done using your SSN.
5. Skip Email and Use Trustworthy
Email is the least secure method of sending private information online. By sending your SSN through email, you’re leaving a lot of risk up to chance. To eliminate the dangers of sending your SSN by email, use Trustworthy instead.
The following section discusses what Trustworthy is and why it’s the best online tool for sending confidential information.
Email vs Trustworthy For Sending Social Security Number
Don’t let your SSN fall into the wrong hands by sending it through email. The convenience and simplicity of sending an email aren’t worth the risk of having your SSN stolen.
Instead, use Trustworthy to securely send your Social Security number.
Trustworthy is a highly-encrypted digital storage platform dedicated to storing and sharing confidential information. With Trustworthy, you can safely upload private details like Social Security numbers, personal IDs, credit card info, bank account passwords, and much more.
Then, you can share individual files with others by sending them a secure Trustworthy invite link. The recipient will be required to make a Trustworthy account with two-factor authentication. Therefore, only the recipient will be able to access your shared Social Security number.
With a stolen SSN, criminals can collect benefits and income, collect tax refunds, apply for credit cards, and establish residencies. Therefore, your SSN is the most important piece of personal information to protect.
Trustworthy (click here to start your free trial) eliminates the risks of sending your SSN online and brings you peace of mind.