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Social Security Number

    When Social Security Numbers were first issued in 1936, the federal government made an assurance to the public that use of such numbers would be limited to Social Security programs only. Today, however, the Social Security Number (SSN) is the most frequently used number for record keeping in the United States. SSNs are used for employee files, medical records, health insurance accounts, credit and banking accounts, university ID cards, and many other purposes. In fact, the Social Security Number is now a requirement for dependents over one year of age especially if the parents claim for tax purposes for the child.

SSN as an Identification Number

    Computer records have replaced paper filing systems in most organizations. Since more than one person may share the same name, accurate retrieval of information works best if each file is assigned a unique number. Many businesses and government agencies believe that the Social Security Number was tailor-made for this purpose. However, with the rise of identity theft and other illegitimate uses of the SSN, this assumption is no longer valid.

Social Security Administration Protecting SSNs

    The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses several measures to prevent those with criminal intent from using false or stolen birth records to get a Social Security Number. A new law, the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, strengthens that protection. Provisions of that law, which became effective December 17, 2005, include:

  • Expanded and more stringent verification of birth records
  • Stricter requirements for proving identity and immigration status and 
  • Limits on replacement cards

    Among the other protections that the SSA have put into place over the past few years includes:

  • Removing Social Security Numbers from payment checks and
  • Truncating numbers on other mailings such as the annual Social Security Statement

    These measures ensure that if someone steals your mail, they won’t be able to use your Social Security Number.

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