A bill designed to combat identity theft by placing restrictions on when and how federal agencies can mail documents with visible Social Security numbers has been signed into law by President Trump. He signed the bill into law on September 15, 2017.
The Social Security Number Fraud Prevention Act of 2017 (H.R. 624) restricts 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 new law says that regulations need to include instructions for partial redaction of Social Security numbers on mailed documents and that they cannot be visible on the outside of mailed packages. Agency leaders need to issue these regulations within 5 years of the enactment of the legislation.
The federal government has increased its emphasis on preventing identity theft in the last couple of years after the two data breaches at the Office of Personnel Management exposed personal data on millions of current and former federal employees and more recently, the breach that was reported at Equifax. In the latter case, legislation has been introduced to provide free credit freezes for consumers.