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Is a Social Security number required to buy a new car?

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Do you have to give your Social Security number when you buy a car? @Davidlaz has the answer
The car dealer demands your Social Security number. Do you have to give it?
You're paying cash for a new car. So why is the dealer demanding your Social Security number?

Erica recently purchased a new car, and she intended to pay the full amount up front with a personal check.

Nevertheless, she said the dealer insisted that she provide her Social Security number. Erica objected, saying it wasn't necessary because she wasn't leasing or financing the vehicle.

The dealer, she said, replied that it was the law.

Erica asks: Is it?

ASK LAZ: Smart answers to consumer questions

Such requirements vary from state to state. But there are some factors that will apply to all purchases of new cars.

First of all, the dealer will want to run a credit check to see if you qualify for financing. Even if you have no intention of financing the car, they'll still want to make the pitch. And to do that, they'll need your Social Security number.

But that's not the main reason why you'll likely have to give it to them.

The main reason is that almost all financial transactions worth $10,000 or more have to be reported to the Internal Revenue Service, and the dealer will need your Social Security number for that.

While the IRS, weirdly, doesn't consider a personal check to be cash, the dealer almost certainly won't take a check without making sure you're good for the money.

You can refuse to authorize a credit check, regardless of how hard the sales rep pushes. But if your new car is worth more than $10,000 -- and it likely is -- you won't have any wiggle room when it comes to your Social Security number.

If you have a consumer question, email me at asklaz@latimes.com or contact me via Twitter @Davidlaz.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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