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Why Business Credit Now Requires a Social Security Number

Are you one of those people who are reluctant to apply for business credit if you know you'll be required to attach your personal social security number to the credit application? After all, that's kind of redundant, isn't it? Especially when the goal is to take every step possible to separate your business from your personal credit?

Unfortunately, this is a fear (often, unfounded) that's drummed along by companies purporting ways to give you access to outrageous amounts of capital without requiring the use of personal information. You should be told up front, though — what they're promising is far from the truth.

Why Business Credit Now Requires A SSN

Any reputable credit adviser will tell you the truth — that you may need to provide your social security number, birth date, and other personal information to achieve certain types of credit, such as bank loans, working capital, and credit cards, even if that credit doesn't, in the long run, require a personal guaranty.

It wasn't always like that, and here are two reasons why...

First, government regulations, specifically the Bank Secrecy Act and the Patriot Act, now require banks and financial organizations to perform adequate “know your customer” processing when opening new accounts.

The Bank Secrecy Act (or “BSA”) requires that banks and other financial institutions in the United States file currency transaction reports (known as CTRs) and suspicious activity reports (known as SARs). Collecting information, maintaining records, and filing reports enable law enforcement to conduct some types of criminal investigations and provide regulatory agencies with the ability to monitor for noncompliance.

The USA Patriot Act, passed in 2001, was a direct result of the 9/11 tragedies, and amended the Bank Secrecy Act to mandate that all statutory financial institutions establish an anti-money laundering program, obligating each institution that is subject to reporting to develop, implement, and maintain that program.