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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently signed an amendment to the state’s Social Security Number Protection Law. The amendment is designed to strengthen consumer privacy and protect against identify theft. The amendment prohibits a person, firm, partnership or other business entity from requiring an individual to disclose or furnish his or her Social Security number for any purpose, and from refusing any service, privilege or right to an individual because the individual refuses to disclose his or her number. The amendment includes an exception which allows employers to request an individual’s Social Security number in the course of the administration of a claim, benefit or procedure related to the individual’s employment; in the course of procedures related to retirement from employment or injury suffered during the course of employment; or to check on an unemployment insurance claim. It also allows employers to request a Social Security number to conduct a criminal or other background check permitted by New York State law, where the individual consents to its use, where it is being requested for the purposes of collecting child support, etc. Failure to comply with the law can result in a fine of up to $500 for the first violation and up to $1,000 dollars for any further violation.

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