Why Does MetaMask Ask for Your Social Security Number?

You’re concerned about online privacy because a malicious actor who gets hold of your social security number (SSN) can use it to commit crimes against you. So, it’s understandable if you don’t want to share your SSN with every online platform you use, including MetaMask. Now, why does MetaMask even need your social security number?

MetaMask doesn’t ask for your social security number because it’s just a wallet that allows you to store your digital assets securely, not a centralized exchange. But centralized exchanges, like Coinbase, require your social security number to comply with regulations.

So, what does MetaMask require? And why would some people think that MetaMask asks for social security numbers from clients? Read on to find out. 

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Does MetaMask Ask for Your Social Security Number?

You can use MetaMask as a browser extension or mobile app. If you’ve used any of the two, you’ll have noticed that no personal details are collected about you. 

MetaMask doesn’t ask for your social security number or any other personal details such as emails. You only need to provide a password upon signing up on the platform, allowing you to access your account later. Note that MetaMask isn’t an exchange; hence no social security number is required.

You only need to provide your social security number to centralized cryptocurrency exchanges to comply with crypto sales and purchases regulations.

But just to be sure, I reached out to MetaMask support on the issue of the social security number, and here’s what they had to say: 

MetaMask doesn’t store any personal data about the user. Everything you see is in your browser or your mobile app at a local level. There are no email addresses associated with accounts. There’s only a Secret Recovery Phrase that’s given once and can’t be changed or reset. 

MetaMask Is Not a Crypto Exchange

As a newcomer in the crypto-world, at some point, you’ll probably be confused about what MetaMask is. Confusion can also occur if you’ve never used MetaMask but are familiar with other cryptocurrency platforms. 

If you think of MetaMask as a crypto exchange, the same as platforms like Binance and Coinbase, you might think MetaMask requires clients’ social security numbers. 

However, MetaMask isn’t an exchange. You can’t buy crypto through MetaMask. You’d have to go through a third party. Moreover, MetaMask isn’t a decentralized exchange. Centralized exchanges ask for social security numbers, but decentralized exchanges typically don’t. 

MetaMask is chiefly a platform that allows you to interact with the Ethereum blockchain. It’s a wallet where you can store digital assets like Ether and Non-Fungible Tokens. It also allows you to interact with decentralized websites. 

While you can’t buy cryptocurrency on MetaMask, you can use it as a wallet, especially when funding activities on decentralized apps. 

Why Doesn’t MetaMask Ask for Your Social Security Number?

MetaMask doesn’t ask for your social security number because it’s a non-custodial wallet, meaning it doesn’t store personal information about you or your account, including your private keys. Also, MetaMask is not a centralized exchange.

The law requires centralized exchanges to collect personal information such as social security numbers from their clients. Such information helps in anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism funding efforts. 

As a non-custodial wallet, MetaMask doesn’t store the private keys to your digital assets. That means, unlike custodial wallets, nobody can hack into your account through the backend and access your funds. 

Being non-custodial also means you’re solely responsible for the security of your account. Suppose you lose your password and the security key you received upon creating your account. Then MetaMask can’t help you recover your account, unfortunately.

What Does MetaMask Ask You for When Signing Up?

To use MetaMask, you first need to download the browser extension, preferably from their official website. Once you’ve installed the extension, they’ll ask you to accept their terms and conditions for the use of the service. Afterwards, you’ll need to choose and input a password. 

MetaMask only asks you for a password when signing up. Once you’ve read and accepted their terms and conditions, you’ll be prompted to key in and confirm your password. MetaMask doesn’t ask you to give any other personal information. 

After choosing a password, you’ll be given a secret recovery phrase that you can use if you forget your password or need to change it. Whoever has that secret recovery phrase effectively owns the account. 

Once you’ve given your password for a new account or a secret recovery phrase for an existing account, you are good to go. That is all MetaMask requires from you. 

You can now perform transactions on the Ethereum blockchain, including sending and receiving Ether and accessing decentralized websites.  

When Do You Need To Give Your SSN When Using MetaMask?

To use MetaMask with decentralized apps or facilitate transactions, you have to have some Ether to fund your activities. 

You only need to give your SSN (Social Security Number) when using MetaMask when funding your account through a centralized exchange. There’s no need to give your SSN to MetaMask. You only give your SSN to the exchange you want to buy crypto from, for example, Coinbase.

You’d then transfer the crypto you’ve bought to your MetaMask account. 

To fund your MetaMask account, you can transfer Ether from other wallets you own. 

However, if you don’t own Ether, you’ll have to buy it. You can buy Ether through a swap, where you exchange cryptocurrency that you do own for some Ether.

But what happens if you don’t own any cryptocurrency? 

Then you’ll have to buy the cryptocurrency that you want. And you’ll have to pay with money. There are two ways to go about this, one of which involves giving out your social security number. 

You can pay someone and have them transfer Ether to you by giving them your MetaMask address. That way, you don’t have to provide your SSN. 

Alternatively, you can buy the asset through centralized crypto exchanges like Coinbase. Such exchanges typically ask you for personal information like your social security number and email address. 

Even when buying crypto to fund your MetaMask account, you don’t give your SSN to MetaMask; you only give it to the third-party application you use to facilitate the transaction. 

Why Are Custodial Crypto Platforms Bad?

By now, you understand that MetaMask doesn’t collect your SSN because it’s not a custodial platform. Since custodial crypto platforms collect your SSN, does it mean they’re bad?

Custodial crypto platforms are bad because they pose privacy and security risks. They store your data, meaning they can access the information you might prefer to keep private, including details of your transactions. Additionally, the security of your assets depends on the exchange.

If the exchange’s security is compromised, you could lose all your assets, and malicious actors could expose your transactional data. 

Non-custodial platforms are more private and secure. You’re responsible for the security of your account because you’re the only one with the security key. In addition, non-custodial platforms don’t track and record your transactions. 

Conclusion

MetaMask doesn’t ask for your social security number. It neither collects nor stores any personally identifiable information related to your account.

When signing up to use MetaMask, you’ll have to input a password then confirm it. You’ll then receive a seed phrase, which you can use to recover your account in future.

Once you confirm that you’ve recorded the phrase, you’re ready to use your MetaMask wallet. The signup process doesn’t involve keying in your social security number. 

Sources 

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