Is Your Social Security Number Going Away?

from the bye-bye dept

With politicians fretting about the need to come up with some sort of law (whether or not it does any good, just so long as it shows they’re doing something) in the wake of the various high profile data leaks from companies like ChoicePoint and LexisNexis, some are wondering if it could mean the end of Social Security Numbers. SSNs were never intended to be a unique identifying number used for all things — but that’s what they’ve become. The problem, though, is that they’re used for so many things that they’re hardly secret any more, and (of course) you can’t change them. So even if the data is out there, you’re stuck with it — making identity theft much easier. While it seems unlikely to happen, some proposals are under discussion to change the way Social Security Numbers work — even to the point that you would no longer know your own Social Security Number, but it would only be used for internal purposes within the government. Of course, thanks to the new Real ID Act, identity thieves will simply move over to stealing your driver’s license number instead of your SSN.

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Comments on “Is Your Social Security Number Going Away?”

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TJ says:

Take away its power instead

The SSN in itself isn’t the problem, it is that simple posession of that # together with a few other pieces of information serves as a powerful key to many transactions. Clearly the government has to use some tracking number for taxes and social security since most names are common and addresses change all the time. Making the # “more” secret won’t help people once theirs does get leaked/abused.

Instead of worrying so much about the secrecy of one number, couldn’t all this modern technology be put to work to better authenticate financial and sensitive government transactions? Hell, even letting people make up passcodes/phrases that would be authenticated by a credit bureau would be an improvement. At least that would be much simpler to change if compromised than an SSN.

If the government would invite the security community (not one single self-interested contractor) to come up with a quality solution and get it thoroughly peer-reviewed before making it a law, we might get something more secure.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Actually...

Yes but if you get a new social security number, then you lose every dime of social security you have worked for all your life…….it isnt transferred over…

The government needs to do something NOW. You submit a credit application to one place, then 25 people are pulling your credit. I read today that you do not have to give your ss# to a bank for a loan….ect…. it violates your rights. You can sue them I guess. Everyones credit is pretty bad now and this situation is out of control.

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