The United States has a growing problem of identity theft. This is partly due to computer security problems such as trojans and viruses, but there is a government dimension to the ID theft problem as well. You see, the humble Social Security number has become a unique identifier for U.S. citizens. This is rather like an unwanted national ID card which is used in many other countries for social control. social security card copy online
Many institutions seized on the Social Security card as a simple and convenient way to identify people. Banks used the number as a secure password. Schools, colleges and universities required that the number be supplied, just as the IRS requires that you give your SSN to any employer or organization that is going to pay you salary, wages, commissions, etc. As this practice spread, the Social Security number logically became something to tie all the computer records together. It wasn’t exactly planned that way, but it evolved that way for administrative convenience.
Crime erupted as dishonest people realized that they only had to find someone’s SSN and basic personal details like their name and address and date of birth, in order to operate bank accounts, take out loans and devastate people’s financial security, usually without being detected for years. Post September 11, 2001 however, there has been considerable tightening of identity in the United States.
Illegal immigrants were often so keen to obtain a SSN that they would research death records and take on the Social Security identity of a deceased person. This would often work long enough for them to find employment in California, Nevada or Texas, without official detection. Clearly, the system is not tight enough if a dead person’s identity can be used and abused in this manner.
The Social Security Administration is located online at ssa.gov and it allows U.S. citizens to do some basic verification of a SSN. You can verify a number for its state and year of original issue, so pre-employment background screening can be done, comparing verbal information with government departmental information. Some third party tools are useful for these tasks as they organize the areas of search. Law enforcement agencies now increasingly use The Internet to verify and double check data that was gleaned from interviews. The computer age has arrived and it looks like it is here to stay. Ironically, it supports both crime and crime fighting.