Not very good protection

In the United States, all citizens/permanent residents get issued a Social Security number (SSN) for tax purposes and other questionable non-reasons. Since this is a very important number, it is generally afforded significant protection.1

When paying my taxes, I had to fill in my SSN so that the IRS could know that my tax due had been paid. The site (which was not an official .gov site, but a private contractor), had this odd set of forms:


First, that is obviously a fake SSN, so no prizes for trying to file a fake return with it.

Second, what UI designer thought this up?

Consider that the point of obscuring the digits with dots is to keep someone from reading it over your shoulder. Completely obviating that protection, you have to enter them in clear display above it.

Then, on top of that, you have to “confirm” your SSN by typing it in, but are not able to see it. What SHOULD be done? Either this:


or preferably (?) this:


  1. For non United States readers, you probably have a social insurance number, or even worse, an identification number. 

2 thoughts on “Not very good protection

  1. George A

    I have seen web designs in which there was a “switch”. They let you choose whether to show or conceal the information with a click. Perhaps you can suggest them that.



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