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New Pa. law restricts use of Social Security numbers

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in Small Business Tax,Small Business Tax Deduction Strategies

Pennsylvania employers will have to go to greater lengths to keep employees' and customers' Social Security numbers private in the wake of new legislation signed by Gov. Rendell this summer.

Senate Bill 601 bars any person or institution from disclosing someone's Social Security number (SSN) to the public. Businesses that use SSNs to identify their employees or customers for reasons other than tracking payroll taxes will have to change their policy.

Employers also can't publicly display or post SSNs, print SSNs on employees' badges or timecards or require people to use their SSN to access a Web site. Violations will be punishable by fines of $50 to $500, and from $500 to $5,000 for second offenses.

Meanwhile, the Senate has passed a bill, S.1036, that would criminalize "phishing" or attempts to trick consumers into providing personal information such as SSNs or credit card numbers through bogus e-mails. The House has yet to take action. If passed, phishing would be a third-degree felony.  

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