I agree with Renee Porsia on this issue. There are very few instances where a buyer or seller must divulge social security numbers:
- Performing domestic relations lien search
- Credit Reports
- Federal Investment in Real Property Act (Commercial Properties)
- W-9 for interest bearing escrow account.
Domestic Relations search is usually done by title company, Credit Reports by Mortgage Company, FIRPTA only applies to commercial properties, and if escrow is not deposited in an interest bearing escrow account, you don't need a W-9. Of course, if you do collect interest on the escrow, the listing broker is required to report the income to the IRS and that's why you would need to file a W-9.
In most cases, I advise buyers that the risks involved by divulging SS numbers on the W-9 is not worth the very small interest gained from the interest bearing escrow account. My advice is usually to forego the interest and don't submit a W-9. My broker does not require them for our listings unless the buyer *insists* on an interest bearing escrow account..
I think it goes without saying, buyers and sellers shouldn't divulge bank account, credit card, and driver license numbers either. At settlement, the title clerk will make a copy of your driver license for identification purposes but you shouldn't need to provide that information on any documents leading up to that point.
I hope that's helpful. Conrgratulations on the successful agreement of sale!.
Oh, and NEVER provide this information over the internet, web sites, email, or fax unless you know the proper data security is in place or the data transmission is encrypted and only give it over the phone if you are absolutely certain who you are giving the information to.
Joe Sheehan, ABR, SRES
RE/MAX Professional Realty, Inc.