At some point back in time, some so-called credit guru recommended business owners put their EIN number or DUNS® number in the slot where the social security number is supposed to go when applying for credit.
Little could he have known what absolute havoc he was going to wreak far into the future for those who were innocent (or desperate) enough to follow his advice about those nine little numbers.
As you can see below, when the dashes are removed, all three (EIN, SSN, and DUNS) are just nine little numbers:
An EIN number has nine numbers separated by one dash: 00-0000000
A DUNS® has nine numbers separated by two dashes: 00-000-0000
A Social Security number has nine numbers and two dashes: 000-00-0000
Online applications don’t require the dashes, so they all become: 000000000
Right there is where the similarity ends, though. Their use and intent is vastly different, and they are NOT INTERCHANGEABLE in any way! More importantly, if you are trying to use one set of nine numbers where the computer is expecting to see a different set, you may be in for a wild ride!
The crazy guru’s scheme probably actually worked (at least for a while) until computer technology caught up and began to truly decipher those numbers for what they were supposed to be. But most creditors and suppliers now require everyone to provide their social security number on credit applications — and not because they want to — but because they have to.
1. They are required to verify and track your identity (due to the Patriot Act). 2. They need to verify YOU are requesting the credit account (and you're not the victim of identity theft). 3. They have to prove you meet the credit underwriter’s base criteria (such as a 500+ FICO score). 4. They want to get you approved any way they can, even if that approval is based off your personal credit (if the business does not have sufficient credit in its file).