Bill Aims to Combat Identity Theft of Social Security Numbers

By on May 27, 2016 in Agency News with 17 Comments

Image showing shredded document with words 'identity theft'

In an effort to combat identity theft, Congressmen Sam Johnson (R-TX) and Jim Renacci (R-OH) have introduced legislation that would require the Social Security Administration to remove Social Security numbers from mailed documents when they are deemed unnecessary.

Known as the Social Security Must Avert Identity Loss MAIL Act (H.R. 5320), the bill would do the following:

  • Require the Social Security Administration to remove the Social Security Number from all unnecessary mailings as soon as practicable; and
  • Require the Social Security Administration to provide bi-annual reports to Congress on the progress of this removal.
    • These bi-annual reports will allow Congress to track the SSA’s progress by requiring the SSA to include which mailings continue to contain a full SSN, and provide either the date the SSN is scheduled to be removed from that mailing, or if the SSA determines that the SSN is necessary, a justification for the determination.

According to Johnson, the Social Security Administration sent about 233 million documents last year that contain full Social Security numbers on at least 579 different notices. Besides the obvious problem of having the numbers out in the open, Johnson notes that as many as 51% of the mailing addresses SSA uses are inaccurate, opening the door to sending somebody’s Social Security number to the wrong person.

According to Johnson:

“Despite telling Americans countless times about the need to protect their Social Security Numbers, Social Security fails to take its own advice. The SSA makes too many Americans vulnerable to identity loss by mailing documents that include a Social Security Number when it’s just not necessary. Americans rightly expect that Social Security isn’t putting their identities at risk when a letter is lost or stolen. Our bill is a commonsense solution to a problem that simply shouldn’t exist.”

© 2016 Ian Smith. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced without express written consent from Ian Smith.

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Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He enjoys writing about current topics that affect the federal workforce. Ian also has a background in web development and does the technical work for the FedSmith.com web site and its sibling sites.

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