How to use SSN to buy things online

You want to know how to use an SSN to buy things online. However, you should note that it is not possible to use your SSN for this purpose and it may have never been possible. Your Social Security card only contains your SSN and is not a valid form of payment online. To make purchases online, you need a valid credit or debit card that is linked to a bank account. Without a credit card or debit card, or even a gift card, it is not possible to make purchases online with just your SSN.

Can you buy stuff with your Social Security card?

How to use SSN to buy things online


False claims are circulating on the internet that the Federal Reserve maintains accounts for individuals that are linked to their Social Security number. These claims are not true and should be disregarded. There is no such account and it is not possible to use a Social Security number to pay bills, obtain money or make purchases online.

A Social Security card is not a form of payment. It is simply a document that contains your Social Security number, which is used for identification and to track your earnings for Social Security benefits. Banks may use your Social Security number to check your credit, verify your identity, and report delinquent payments to your credit.


It is not the same as having a bank account, credit card, or debit card. You cannot access any funds or benefits linked to your Social Security number in the same way you would with a traditional bank account.

Payroll taxes paid to Social Security go into one account that is used to pay benefits to other individuals. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will track your earnings and give credit to you for the payments. You can check your earnings history via your “My Social Security” account. When someone retires, becomes disabled, or dies with a qualifying dependent, the person or the qualifying dependent gets the monthly payments according to the amount initially paid. This is different from a traditional bank account where you can withdraw funds as you wish.

How much is my Social Security number worth?

It has come to the attention of the Federal Reserve Banks that there have been several recent instances where consumers have attempted to use the Fed’s routing numbers and their Social Security numbers for unauthorized transactions, such as paying bills and making purchases on e-commerce sites.

The number on the back of your Social Security card is a Sequential Control Number (SCN). It is a combination of alphanumeric characters and is not related to your Social Security number as it appears on the card. The SCN is used to identify and track records within the Social Security Administration (SSA) but it is not a credit or debit card number or a personal account number.


Your SSN as a way to pay bills or buy online is a big no-no. It’s not a valid method of payment and it can land you in hot water. You could face penalties such as late fees or returned check fees if the payment is reversed.

The Federal Reserve Bank wants you to be aware that any information you come across – whether it’s a video, text, email, phone call, flyer, or website – that suggests you can pay bills using a Federal Reserve Bank routing number or use an account at the Federal Reserve Bank is a scam. This includes using your SSN as a way to pay for stuff online, so, be on the lookout and don’t fall for any of these false claims.

How to use SSN to buy things online

Perhaps, you could use your SSN to pay for stuff online, but not just the way you think about any authorized form of payment such as credit or debit cards.

1. Work for 40 quarters

To qualify for retirement benefits from the Social Security Administration, anyone born in 1929 or later must have earned 40 quarters of work, per the SSA, which is equivalent to 10 years of work. This means that if you have not accumulated 40 quarters of work, you will not be eligible to receive retirement benefits.

2. Don’t stop paying Social Security tax

The Social Security tax that you pay as a portion of your income is used to fund the retirement, disability, and survivorship benefits provided by the Social Security Administration. If you do not pay your Social Security tax, it may result in penalties and interest being assessed by the government. Failure to pay taxes on time and not fulfilling your tax obligation can also result in further financial, legal, and other penalties.

3. Age up to 62

You can start receiving your Social Security retirement benefits as early as age 62. But just a heads up, if you start receiving your benefits before your full retirement age (between 65 to 67, depending on your year of birth), the SSA will reduce your benefit amount.

Just to give you an idea: if you reach age 62 in 2024, your benefit will be around 30% less than what it would be if you wait until your full retirement age. Consider the conditions before making a decision.

4. Sign up for your retirement benefits

You have the option to apply for benefits for retirement, your spouse’s Medicare, or disability online. If for some reason you are not able to apply online, visit any of the Social Security Administration (SSA) offices to see if you are eligible for an in-person appointment. If you live outside the United States, reach out to the Federal Benefits Unit that provides services in the country you reside in.

5. Buy online with your money

You will receive your Social Security benefits, which are intended for use as a source of income for expenses such as buying things online. However, your Social Security number is not just a number, it is a personal identification that should be treated securely.

You should only give your SSN to individuals or organizations that you trust for legitimate uses such as banks, schools, employers, passport applications, and government agencies. Do not give your SSN to strangers over the internet or phone, as this could put you at risk of identity theft. If you have any suspicions that your SSN has been compromised, CONTACT the Social Security office immediately.

Buy gift card with SSN?

You can’t use your Social Security number (SSN) to buy a gift card. Your SSN is a unique identification number for tracking earnings for Social Security benefits and taxes and not a form of payment, so cannot be used to purchase gift cards.

To buy a gift card, you will need a valid form of payment such as a credit card, debit card, or bank account. Some retailers may also accept other forms of payment such as cash or checks. Make sure to check with the specific retailer or gift card provider for acceptable forms of payment.


Don’t give out your SSN to anyone you don’t trust or to strangers over the internet or phone—you could be putting yourself at risk of identity theft. Only provide your SSN to trusted individuals or organizations when it is necessary and legally required.

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