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Is it illegal for someone to give your social security number from work documents to others without your permission?

San Jose, CA |

I have a former client, a CPA, who gave my social security number from a 1099 form to an attorney for her homeowners association. That attorney then gave my social security number to a client of his without my permission. The client used my social security number to run a background check and credit checks on me--again all without my permission. Is this legal.

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Attorney answers 2

Best Answer

It seems likely, that under the fact scenario posted, that violations of various privacy and professional responsibility (ethics) codes have taken place. The state licensing board for CPA may have a problem with this action by the CPA. The State Bar Association may have a problem with this action by the attorney.

A California law places restrictions on the display and transmission of SSNs by companies. For more information, read the California Office of Privacy Protection guide on SSN “recommended practices,” at

For more on financial privacy in California, see the Office of Privacy Protection publication, Your Financial Privacy Rights. This publication also includes California agencies that enforce privacy rights. (available at:

Disclaimer Information on this site is provided by Brian Scott Wayson as general information, not legal advice, and use of this information does not establish an attorney-client relationship. If you have questions about your specific situation, please call an attorney.


An excellent source for information on privacy rights in California and elsewhere is the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse in San Diego, CA. This organization has excellent fact sheets on privacy, Social Security Numbers, background checks, and more. If you cannot find what you need on the web site, call them and see if someone can give you more direction.

And I agree with the previous answer; it sounds likely the client who gave out your confidential information might be liable for the breach of privacy and any damages.

*** All legal actions have time limits, called statutes of limitation. If you miss the deadline for filing your claim, you will lose the opportunity to pursue your case. Please consult with an experienced employment attorney as soon as possible to better preserve your rights.*** These comments are for information only and should not be considered legal advice. Legal advice must pertain to specific facts. No attorney-client relationship is created based on this information exchange. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer is licensed to practice law before all of the state and federal courts in California, and can appear before administrative agencies throughout the country. ***