DEFINITION of 'Account Number'

The primary identifier for ownership of an account, whether a vendor account, a checking or brokerage account, or a loan account. An account number is used whether or not the identifier uses letters or numbers.

BREAKING DOWN 'Account Number'

At one time, it was common to use a Social Security number as the primary identifier, particularly for employees (for payroll or human-resources identification). Because of the proliferation of identity theft, however, this practice has been all but eradicated. It is not a good idea to use a Social Security number for any type of account, or as a user name or password for electronic identification.

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