Saturday, September 27, 2008

Comcast: “The Patriot Act” Mandates We Need Your SSN

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Ben Popken
The Consumerist
September 24, 2008

Ryan wanted to order new Comcast service but balked at their request for a Social Security number. When he asked why they needed it, the Comcast chat rep said "The Patriot Act" required it. That doesn’t sound right to us, or to Ryan. His story and full screenshot of the chat, inside…

UPDATE 1:How To Get Utilities And Phone Service Without Giving Up Your SSN
UPDATE 2: Comcast Admits Error In Requiring SSN Under "Patriot Act"

Ryan writes:

After completing the order procedure on their website I was directed to a live chat window. After waiting about twenty minuets a Analyst joined the chat. She immediately requested I provide my Social security number in order to open a new account. I refused to provide my SSN and asked for details as to why it was required. Her answer is that the Patriot Act requires them to get my Social Security number.

As you can see in the transcript I attached, she referred me to their legal department. I actually asked for the phone number five to ten seconds before she closed the chat. But when I viewed the chat transcript it says the chat was closed before I asked. That is a neat trick.

Can what she told me actually be true? …I don’t believe [the Patriot Act] requires me to provide my SSN just to get Internet service.

I think the Comcast rep somehow thinks that Comcast falls under the "Know Your Customer" clause of the Patriot Act. As far as I understand it, that only applies to financial companies or financial intermediaries, neither of which I believe Comcast qualifies as.

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