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Probe: March 28, 2001

March 28, 2001

QUESTION: My husband is trying to enroll in a correspondence course through Sacramento State University. However, to enroll he must give the school his Social Security number.

When he declined, the school's admissions clerk said she could not process his application without the number.

He says the school doesn't have to have the number. All they want it for is for identification, he says. Is he right? — Wife, Brawley

He's right but he may have to give up the number to enroll in the class. First, appeal to a higher power, maybe the department supervisor or call his state legislators.

Your husband may be a point man in a small revolution of consumers and students refusing to give their Social Security numbers.

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Pointing to the growing problem of identity theft, they are reluctant to reveal the final piece of the identity puzzle that defines them.

Some colleges and universities no longer use Social Security numbers for identification. Instead they issue student identification numbers, according to Olga Artechi, evening administrator at Imperial Valley College.

IVC still asks for the SS number but if you resist, IVC will come up with a number for you, she said.

You would be surprised how often you can get away with resistance to giving out your SS number. When somebody asks for your number, just say no.

Of course if you really want that house, car or bank loan, or college admission you may have to relent. As our mama used to say, "Don't cut your nose off to spite your face."

HERE DUCKY, DUCKY…. — When I got your message about the duck with the broken jaw, I went out and talked to our park maintenance crew.

They knew about the wounded duck. They had been trying to capture it for three days. They can get close but when they try to catch it, it flies out of reach.

Two or three times a year the park crew finds an injured duck or goose in the park. The guys don't kill the bird. When they catch it, they take it down to Dr. Steve Bowen, a veterinarian, who treats the birds without charge.

Most of the time the vet restores it to health. After it has healed, it's released in the park. — Parks and Recreation Director, El Centro

It's good to know that nobody will wring the duck's neck to "end its suffering."

When we called Ken Skillman, director of development services and the parks department for the city of El Centro, we thought we were ordering a hit on a sick duck.

Another PROBE reader reported seeing a blind duck in the park Sunday. "We threw bread at his feet but he couldn't see it." Maybe the park guys can find that duck also.

QUESTION: I have been told that I can buy alcohol on the last day before my 21st birthday. Is that true? — Maturing, Holtville

You know that's not true, but it was true a few years ago, according to Lupe Romero, spokeswoman for the El Monte office of state Alcohol Beverage Control.

That's been changed. Now you can legally buy your first drink on your 21st birthday. By the way, Romero said you can legally buy cigarettes as soon as the clock strikes midnight on your 18th birthday.

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