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My wife is a recent, legal immigrant to the US. I am considering getting her a credit card. I know this may be difficult because she has no credit, but I might be able to work something out with my bank.

My question is, should I? Once she has a card, her social is in the computers of Experian and other scumbags. If she's off the books, her identity presumably cannot be stolen.

Any recommendations on this debate? Right now she uses a debit card. The bank has her information but, since she hasn't applied for credit, I don't know that they've had to pass it on to credit reporting agencies, etc. (Or maybe they have, and her chances for living a secure life in the US is already gone...)

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    If she's "off the books" with no credit history or anything, what happens if you get hit by a bus? – jamesqf Jul 20 '18 at 16:24
  • My guess is she would ALREADY BE in Experian, etc. – Fattie Jul 20 '18 at 19:09
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My wife is a recent, legal immigrant to the US. I am considering getting her a credit card. I know this may be difficult because she has no credit, but I might be able to work something out with my bank.

Make her a designated user on one of your credit cards. That will start building her credit history. Then after a year or two get a card in her name only.

My question is, should I? Once she has a card, her social is in the computers of Experian and other scumbags. If she's off the books, her identity presumably cannot be stolen.

Now if the goal is to protect her social security number from ID thieves, there are other places where the SSN has to be supplied. Places include: applying for a passport, health insurance, getting a drivers license, getting a job, filing income taxes.

Any of these activities expose and store the SSN.

Even your activities can expose it. If you apply for a job that requires a government background check. They will ask for your spouses information, which can then be stolen.

In June 2015, OPM discovered that the background investigation records of current, former, and prospective Federal employees and contractors had been stolen. OPM and the interagency incident response team have concluded with high confidence that sensitive information, including the Social Security Numbers (SSNs) of 21.5 million individuals, was stolen from the background investigation databases. This includes 19.7 million individuals that applied for a background investigation, and 1.8 million non-applicants, primarily spouses or co-habitants of applicants. Some records also include findings from interviews conducted by background investigators and approximately 5.6 million include fingerprints. Usernames and passwords that background investigation applicants used to fill out their background investigation forms were also stolen.

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    Further to this: anyone who is treating an SSN as an authenticator is an idiot - it is an identifier. (In other words, it is not usefully a secret, knowing it proves nothing. It is merely a unique "name" for a person.) Of course, there are a lot of idiots ... – Martin Bonner Jul 20 '18 at 11:33
  • @MartinBonner - of course to open an account one needs more than an SSN. There's plenty of data collected and stored. – horse hair Jul 20 '18 at 20:21

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