Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Why does the bank want the first 5 digits of my Social Security number?!?

Image ID 960307, PARTIAL by Stock Exchnage user svilen001  First, an important disclaimer: This article does not create an Realtor-client relationship with any reader. In other words, although I am a Realtor, I am not your Realtor.  Please contact a Realtor, attorney, or accountant/CPA in your community for personalized advice. 

Why does Bank of America require the first 5 digits of your Social Security number if you’re trying to buy a short sale home from them?


  • This situation applies if you – as buyer – are trying to buy a home that is a short sale and the seller’s lender is Bank of America.
  • Bank of America uses a software program called Equator to track their short sales. It (usually) makes the process faster because the software automates response deadlines from the bank.
  • The Equator software system requires that the seller’s Realtor agent enter the buyers’ social security data at the time an offer is made  and submitted to the Equator software system.

Here’s a screen shot of the Equator system at the point of entering a buyer’s offer on the short sale home being managed by Bank of America.

equator screenshot


So what is Bank of America doing with the first 5 digits of your Social Security number?!

I don’t think a bank can do anything useful with the first 5 digits of the SSN.  At least not right now.  (but see where a bunch of Realtors speculate on whether the bank can use the 5 digits of the Social Security number to pull a buyers’ credit – consensus: unknown).

  • I believe BofA is stockpiling info for later use and/or sale.
  • Bank of America is so huge it owns or services 1 in 5 mortgages in the United States
  • I believe that eventually BofA will have enough partial data on enough people to combine the first 5 with the last 4 digits for a significant number of people.
  • bingo! they’ve got all 9 numbers and you’re wide open to identity theft

This is my opinion only. It does not represent the opinion of my broker (my boss), my business partner or the local or national Association of Realtors.

What should I do if Bank of America asks for the first 5 digits of my Social Security number?

First, please re-read the disclaimer at the beginning of this article: I’m a Realtor but not your Realtor. Contact someone local.

Personally, for my buyer clients, I do not provide the first 5 digits of their Social Security numbers. I give the bank zeros:  000-00.

Using zeros instead of the real Social Security numbers has worked for several of my clients who successfully bought short sale properties with Bank of America involvement. Your mileage may vary, but give it some thought.

Need personalized real estate advice in the metro Phoenix Arizona area? Call me. Or email me. Or text me. Or Tweet me.  Just contact me. We’re The Phoenix Agents @ Thompson’s Realty – Real people… making real estate …real simple.

Just want more info without talking to an agent right now? No problem.

Image credit: Stock Exchange user svilen001 – note this is a partial portion of svilen001’s original image.