Along with preparing taxes, I have worked as a customer service representative for Major Credit Card companies over the years, and I can tell you that most, if not all, of these companies use your SS#, or a portion of it (such as the last 4 digits) as a way to verify you are the card holder. So if you were using their store's CC, that is why they asked for your SS#.
I am old enough to remember the original Social Security card that stated right on the card that this was not to be used as a form of identification.......those were the days.
If you are using the store's credit card, you may call & ask them to use an alternative form of verification, but your Social Security # must remain part of the master record, since that number was used to verify your credit.
I wish I had a better answer for you. When I first started preparing taxes, we signed every tax return and manually put our social security numbers on them, as the IRS dictated. Fortunately, the IRS came up with a different number that they assigned to every tax preparer that is now used in lieu of our Social Security numbers.
Given the easy access to personal information now a days with smart phones, and apps, and tax fraud, stolen identity's etc. it is really vital that we protect our identity as much as possible, but I really think that that process will take a while yet. Lap tops, tablets, smart phones, and now smart watches have exploded into our world, and we need a way to keep up and protect our personal information.
I don't have a good alternative (If I did, I would be a rich woman) but working with in the constraints of viable identifying information, you can certainly call the merchants and find out how they can help you keep your information safe by using alternative forms of identification is a good place to start, while understanding that your SS# ***** still be on their master records.
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