The official Social Security website is the best way to verify a Social Security number (SSN), states the Social Security Administration. Ways to protect an SSN include refusing to disclose it, offering a driver's license number as an alternative and asking how the recipient plans to store the number, recommends Bankrate.
The Social Security website can verify that SSNs and names match, explains the Social Security Administration. The safest way to protect an SSN is to not release it at all, but in the very least, a person should question whether or not it is absolutely necessary, cautions Bankrate. It is wise to find out the process used for accessing the number and to ask for a copy of the company's privacy document.
To avoid identify theft and protect an SSN, the Social Security Administration encourages the use of alternative identifiers or ID numbers instead of using a Social Security number, as explained in the Social Security Administration article on avoiding identity theft.
Data encryption is another form of protection recommended by the SSA to ensure only an authorized individual can have access to either a Social Security or alternative identifier number. Individuals should never list a SSN on unprotected computer systems, send it through an electronic format or use a computer login system requiring a social security number.