Role of Social Security Numbers in Identity Theft and Options to Guard Their Privacy, Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Social Security of the Committee on Ways and Means U.S. House of Representatives, One Hundred Twelfth Congress, First Session, April 13, 2011   [open pdf - 9MB]

From the Hearing Advisory: "Identity theft is the fastest growing type of fraud in the United States, affecting 11.1 million victims in 2009, up 12 percent since 2008. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) estimates that identity theft costs consumers about $50 billion annually. Further, identity theft is often used to facilitate other crimes, including credit card, document, or employment fraud. The Social Security number (SSN) is especially valuable to identity thieves as it serves as the key to authenticating an individual's identity in order to open accounts or obtain other benefits in the victim's name. Although created in 1936 solely to track workers' earnings for Social Security benefit purposes, use of the SSN has become widespread. Largely because the SSN is permanent and unique to an individual, SSNs are used by many industries, including financial institutions, insurers, universities, health care providers, and government agencies. While many SSN uses are beneficial and required by law, such as for purposes of employment and taxation, other uses may not be necessary, such as displaying it on an identification card. […] The Subcommittee will examine the impacts of identity theft, the role of SSNs in abetting identity theft, and options to restrict its use. In addition, the role of the SSN in administering Social Security programs and how the Social Security Administration protects SSNs will be considered, along with legislative proposals to limit the use of SSNs." Statements, letters, and materials submitted for the record include those of the following: Patrick P. O'Carroll Jr., Maneesha Mithal, Theresa L. Gruber, Juan J. Martinez, and Helene Perry.

Report Number:
Serial No. 112-SS2
Public Domain
Retrieved From:
U.S. Government Printing Office, Federal Digital System: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/
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