Political Chowder Ingredients: Facts, Events, Policy, Politicians, Journalists, and YOU
Political Chowder Ingredients:
Facts, Events, Policy, Politicians, Journalists, and YOU

This Week's "You"
May 17, 2009
Letter from the Nashua Telegraph
05/13/09

So why does PSNH need my SS number?

Please tell me we haven't become so conditioned to giving out our personal information that we don't object when our local electric utility starts asking for it.

I understand we've become conditioned to having to give the Social Security number when applying for credit, insurance, jobs and any government function. But our electric bills?

That's right. I was making a routine inquiry about my electric bill, which I don't do more than once or twice a year.

The "customer service" representative at Public Service of New Hampshire requested either my SSN or driver license number.

I asked: "For a routine inquiry? What legal basis do you have for requesting this information?"

She replied it was under something called the "red flag" rules and refused to discuss my account without providing the information. I refused.

Further research revealed these rules are promulgated by the Federal Trade Commission (www.ftc.gov/os/comments/credit reportfreezes/534030-00049.pdf.)

This document and others would have us believe it is for our own good, like everything else the feds do. They claim it is necessary to prevent identity theft.

Of course, like everything else the feds do, it is usually unconstitutional and it is usually in response to a problem they created in the first place. In this case, they allowed the Social Security number to be used as a universal identifier.

Perhaps they call it "red flag rules" because they attended a bullfight and noticed the "red flag" that the matador uses to distract the bull and conceded this kind of bull was no different.




Richard Kahn
Hudson