This site has had similar questions about giving private information to recruiters but I haven't seen this particular case.

When I'm cold-called by an recruitment agency about a job, and I agree to be submitted, they often ask for birth month/date and the last four digits of my SSN. I'm never really comfortable giving it, but I usually do.

The agent who called today asked for the last four plus the FULL date of birth. (Most likely illegal.) I'd probably decline to give the info except for one thing: I gave it to this company two years ago, for better or worse.

The agency submitted me to a prestigious company that year and the next year, and I even got an interview out of it. So not only does this agency seem somewhat legitimate, but we may actually have a "relationship".

The new recruiter says my information is no longer in their database. Is there any reason I should not give this new guy the same information I gave his agency before?

  • 1
    Related: workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/24241/…
    – Erik
    Mar 28, 2017 at 6:38
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    I am a recruiter and I can tell you that with certain 3rd party vendor-managed systems for large customers like FCA/Chrysler, recruiters cannot submit you to any contract positions without this information. It is required by the client VMS, so if a candidate refuses to provide this information, there is no other way to submit them to the job. Mar 28, 2017 at 13:49
  • I presume, however, that you wouldn't cold-call and ask for this info without explaining yourself? Mar 28, 2017 at 14:08
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    @JohnR.Strohm in certain instances, this information is required for submittal. Mar 28, 2017 at 18:03
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    @user7780168: Yes, you need it for submittal to SOME Clients. HOWEVER, COMMA, you do NOT need it until you have actually gotten EXPLICIT permission from the Candidate to submit him/her to THIS PARTICULAR CLIENT for THIS PARTICULAR REQ. This requires that you query the Client PRIOR TO THIS PARTICULAR SUBMISSION. That's when you get the information, NOT BEFORE. In particular, you do NOT ask the Candidate for the information "for our database". Mar 28, 2017 at 23:32

6 Answers 6


I can think of one very good reason why you shouldn't give him the information: you don't want to, and he almost certainly doesn't need it right now.

Challenge them on this. Ask why they require the information, what it's being used for, and how it's being secured after you provide it (if you're emailing it, there is no security!). They're asking for it and expecting it because not enough people stand up for themselves and say "no."

If you don't like the prospect of giving them this information, then don't. If they won't move you further in their process over this, move on to the next recruiter. Forget what happened two years ago with this information. The past is the past.

I have never been asked for this information on a cold-call. Or any other stage of the interview/application process prior to the actual employment paperwork & background check.


I was asked this recently by a recruiter (minus the birth year) and I refused. I was told that the information was needed to create a unique key. After establishing that that was the only reason they needed it I told them to enter my birthday as 11th November and the last four digits of my SIN as 1111. That seemed to work.

Of course you can't all do exactly that...

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    That would not guarantee a unique key either. Only an idiot would create a unique key that way. granted many databases seem to be designed by idiots.
    – HLGEM
    Mar 29, 2017 at 13:55
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    Sure, but that's not my problem. Mar 29, 2017 at 14:06
  • If we all did exactly that, maybe they wouldn't have such a dumb requirement...
    – ColleenV
    Mar 30, 2017 at 19:10
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    I've heard this two times in my career and it's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. If they want a unique key there are two pretty obvious alternatives: your email address(duh) and umm....a randomly generated number (or guid). Both times I was asked I refused. One didn't submit me and the other did.
    – user609926
    Apr 25, 2018 at 19:31

Asking a candidate their age or date of birth is actually an illegal interview question, just as asking what is your religion or if you are handicapped. Cannot ask and completely inappropriate and unprofessional. If a recruiter is asking questions like these, walk away.

Per the EEOC, there are "prohibited practices" for hiring- employers cannot base hiring decisions on race, age, religion, sex, etc., thus we cannot ask certain questions during the hiring process.

Once the hiring process is completed and a successful candidate has been selected, the employer can then have them complete a background check to ensure that the candidate is who they say they are- they have the work experience and degree(s) and also verify if they have a criminal record, etc. There are federal laws in place to help ensure that these checks are not used to discriminate.

I have had situations in the past where a candidate was selected for a position and a background check showed that the candidate had not earned multiple degrees they said they had earned. Candidate was not hired.

There are definitely some unscrupulous recruiters out there who lack ethics and integrity, and they make things harder for the majority of us who honestly try to do things the right way. If you get a call from someone who is being cagey and will not share important details, like the name of their client, and who cannot share basic information like a job description or company benefits, you should probably cut bait.

  • Many companies do background checks and require the recruiters they work with to do background checks. These are important pieces of information to do a background check with a high level of accuracy. Mar 29, 2017 at 13:22
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    @ghost: Although true, it's completely unnecessary to run a background check until a job offer has been given.
    – NotMe
    Mar 29, 2017 at 16:07
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    @NotMe You are absolutely correct, but that is not what this answer said. It reads like a recruiters should not be asking these questions ever. Mar 29, 2017 at 16:08
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    Hi, please use the edit button to update your existing post rather than posting new answers. Thanks!
    – enderland
    Mar 30, 2017 at 18:09
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    Uh no, asking those questions is not illegal, but a really bad idea. Basing your decisions on the candidate's religion, etc. is illegal. If you ask for it, it becomes easier to accuse you of discrimination, but asking by itself is not illegal.
    – Masked Man
    Mar 30, 2017 at 18:31

It's possible that two candidates might have the same last 4 digits and birth year so giving that extra information might uniquely identify you.

Or they might mistakenly be asking for the full birthdate.

Just point out that you only usually give your birth year and ask for clarification on why they want the full date.

And yes, things do get lost/deleted (and some people don't know how to search databases, but won't admit to it).

  • I find it unrealistic to think that two candidates have the same name, same birth year and same last four in social. There is zero reason to ask for the parts of the social security number.
    – NotMe
    Mar 29, 2017 at 16:06

I posted the original question three years ago. Since then, for better or worse, I have been giving recruiters my birthday/date (not year) and last four digits of my SSN.

A few months back, I got an e-mail from a recruiter I had been corresponding with; it accidentally included some information that was supposed to go the hiring company. In a cell on a form, in included the numbers that I've been giving out for this purpose.

As far as I'm concerned, this confirms what @user7780168 said: these numbers are one's ID for the hiring systems out there.


Just for general advice, it is a bad idea to give away the last four digits of your social security number. Just like it is bad advice to play Russian Roulette. It may be fine sometimes, but other times the outcomes are very bad. Unfortunately you have no way of knowing.

When I'm cold-called by an recruitment agency about a job, and I agree to be submitted, they often ask for birth month/date and the last four digits of my SSN.

So, the OP receives a call from someone claiming to be a recruitment agency. That is what we know.

We also know that due to the way SSN was historically generated, someone's state, date of birth and last four digits of SSN are enough in order to determines someone's SSN with a high degree of accuracy.

The fact is the person you are speaking with knows you once used the recruitment agency before means nothing. There have been numerous reported data leaks. I would also not be surprised if the recruitment agency has sold the information on-wards to other firms.

I recommend generating and storing fake versions of this information. If the consideration is for uniqueness, this is a legitimate solution.

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