On August 14, 2012, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed a series of bills designed to enhance personal privacy protections and combat consumer fraud. A key piece of the legislative package safeguards Social Security Numbers by limiting their collection and dissemination to certain entities that have a public or practical interest in the information, including the state of New York and its political subdivisions, certain federally regulated entities and banking institutions.
The law prohibits individuals and businesses from requiring the disclosure of Social Security Numbers or from refusing any service, privilege, or right based on the refusal to disclose a Social Security Number. The law authorizes the collection and use of Social Security Numbers in multiple contexts, including internal verification, tax compliance, employment-related actions, criminal investigations, compliance with government requirements, the collection of child or spousal support, credit applications and fraud investigations. The law authorizes the state attorney general to seek injunctions to enjoin prohibited practices and provides for the imposition of civil penalties of up to $1,000 per violation.