General Question

skfinkel's avatar

Making a plane reservation, and when I put in my credit card info, it also asked about social security card (last four digits), and other stuff. Why?

Asked by skfinkel (12884 points ) October 21st, 2010

Why do they need all of this—it’s supposedly for my safety, but it just gives them more and more info. I didn’t do it. Didn’t get my ticket yet. Should I just not worry and be happy and give them what they want?

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10 Answers

augustlan's avatar

Is it just about verifying the credit card or could it be an anti-terrorism thing, where they have to do a background check on you or something? I haven’t flown in a long time, so I’m not up to date on this stuff.

skfinkel's avatar

It’s more about the credit card—making sure it is protected—so I give them more info, and with that it could be more vulnerable.

augustlan's avatar

I suppose if it’s just the last four digits, it’s fairly safe to give it to them. I’d rather they use different criteria though, like your mother’s maiden name or a security question only you know the answer to. I think if you talk to a live person they have to let you buy without giving them your SS number, but I’m not sure if that applies to only a portion of the number. Also, they may charge you more for buying your ticket that way.

Jeruba's avatar

I would not give my mother’s maiden name to some clerk or software program of an airline. I’d sooner hand them my car keys and all the cash in my wallet. But I can’t understand what a SS number has to do with buying an airline ticket. The last time I flew (in June), I didn’t have to do this.

Is this a domestic or international flight?

jrpowell's avatar

The only two things I can think of is if you lost the ticket and at the gate they would use the four numbers to verify that you are who you say your are. When I buy something on my credit card the last four numbers are printed on the receipt.

Or they check to see if you are the No Fly List. There are a lot of people named John Powell so it would help narrow the search.

Jeruba's avatar

@johnpowell, the airline should not be taking responsibility for passengers’ possibly losing their tickets, to the extent of requiring personal information from everyone just in case. A passenger should be able to say “I’ll take my chances, thanks” and decline such paternalistic management of his or her affairs.

If you have an electronic ticket and you can’t produce your reference number, all you need to do is show the credit card you bought the ticket with. No SS number involved. So this has to be for some other purpose. Some purpose that I doubt is really for the passenger’s benefit at all, but rather is being extorted, in effect, for a reason we wouldn’t like if we knew it.

jrpowell's avatar

@Jeruba :: Sure I don’t have a problem with that. But they also need to get the fuck out of the line after they accept the responsibility. And we know how that will end.

I have bought three types of tickets in the last ten years.

-At the agent and got a paper ticket.
-Online and they mailed me a paper ticket.
-Online where I got the ticket at a kiosk.

I can see where the last would be be handy for verification. Like the PIN number on your Debit Card.

Read my second option on my first quip.

JLeslie's avatar

I have never been asked my social security number to buy and plane ticket, altoug the last four digits of SS is used quite often for many things. Was the screen a verification screen for Visa? Or, the airline asked it as part of their questions along with mailing address for the card?

To comment on @Jeruba‘s comment about mother maiden name, that seems to be used less and less. I always thought that was a not too smart secret code. Hell, my husband’s legal name in his country includes his mother maiden name, it is no secret, most people in Latin America have it as their second last name, some people move it to the middle name when they move here.

BarnacleBill's avatar

It’s an anti-credit card theft measure, part of Know Your Customer. Banks are required to put in certain safeguards that insure that they have taken certain steps to verify their customer’s identification. Generally, this comes in the form of asking a series of questions to verify that you are who you say you are.

Other banking changes push the responsibility for capturing this information onto the business the consumer is dealing with. Because airlines generally make large dollar transactions, it’s reasonable for the process for “know your customer” to push back to the point of transaction.

You should get the same sort of questions when you call customer service at your bank. They are just making sure that you are who you say you are. You can always book online instead of over the phone. There, they capture your computer ID and all of the other tagged information about you tied to that.

john65pennington's avatar

I would never make a credit card purchase over the internet. even your last four numbers of your soc. security number, is enough for a hacker to locate the other missing numbers.

What little money i have, i want to keep. make your airline purchase over the phone, preferably a landline.

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