Bill Aims to Limit Agencies From Mailing Visible Social Security Numbers

Congress has passed legislation that would restrict the publication of Social Security numbers on federal documents that are sent through the mail.

Both the House and Senate have passed the Social Security Number Fraud Prevention Act of 2017 (H.R. 624), legislation which would restrict federal agencies from publishing individuals’ Social Security numbers on documents that get sent by mail unless agency heads determine it to be absolutely necessary. The bill is being touted as a way to help prevent identity theft.

It is unknown at this point if President Trump will sign the bill into law. As of the time of this writing, nothing about the legislation was published on the White House website.

President Trump signed the bill into law on September 15.

“An agency may not include the social security account number of an individual on any document sent by mail unless the head of the agency determines that the inclusion of the social security account number on the document is necessary,” according to the bill.

However, it could be a while before that happens. The legislation also states that agency leaders would need to issue regulations “not later than 5 years after the date of the enactment of this Act.”

The bill stipulates that regulations would include instructions for partial redaction of Social Security numbers and would require that they not be visible on the outside of mailed packages.

The bill was introduced in January by Congressman David G. Valadao (R-CA). He said of the bill, “Our federal government should be working to protect our nation’s veterans and children, not actively contributing to the occurrence of this crime [identity theft]. I am proud to introduce this commonsense legislation to remove Social Security Numbers from government documents when they aren’t necessary.”

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.