|Mary Lloyd, on the left, spoke at the January 4 meeting. In the center is Elizabeth Sloan and on her right is her grandfather, Alan Robertson.|
SSNs were originally intended to be used only for SS administration and IRS. Then their use expanded to ID purposes in credit and other areas. Because the SS number was never designed for new additional purposes, there are no internal checks on whether on not that SSN is really yours.
If the new erroneous SSN is unassigned (called a synthetic number), there is generally no problem. If the erroneous number is assigned to someone else, both people have a problem. The SS Administration and IRS don’t have the time and money to cull out transpositions. But sometimes they do send a letter saying that there is a mismatch in SSNs and ask the taxpayer to figure out what is causing the problem.
There are over 12 million illegal aliens in the USA. Six million of them work and use false SSNs. Some are unassigned “synthetic” numbers which don’t cause you problems. Others are using someone else’s active SSN, which is a problem. When the government agencies find there are two people with the same SSN, they don’t credit your contributions to your SS retirement fund but instead put contributions into a “suspense fund”. By 1999 the suspense fund contained $300 Billion. This grew to $585 Billion in 2005. Most is due to aliens giving false SSNs to employers and they leave before the 90 days allowed to deliver documents (which don’t exist) expires. Valid workers who try to receive benefits are turned down because the illegal alien with the same SSN is shown to be working. There are similar problems with student loans, warrants, etc.
To know if someone else is using your SSN, watch for problems with your credit (e.g., you are billed for and item you didn’t buy), not getting a tax refund or Estimated Tax Payment credit from the IRS, or for some other problem. Avoid giving your SSN to someone unless it is absolutely needed.
Mary noted that the SSN does indicate the area of the USA where you first received your SSN. (Click here to view sss.gov website showing this.) There is no proof that other information can be determined from your SSN. Anyone could have a problem with SSNs privacy, so always guard your number and watch for strange things happening that could indicate a problem.
In 2006 the US Military decided to move from SSNs to newly generated military ID numbers. This was necessary because the US Military did not adequately protect the SSNs. For example, the military stencils the last four digits of the SSN on laundry bags. To this day, the new system of ID numbers is still not implemented. Military people on combat duty are vulnerable to SSN ID theft because their priority is to just stay alive.
Mary also mentioned that a local scam, geared toward grandparents, is striking our area. It is called the “Hey it’s me” fraud. Some scammer calls you on the telephone and says, “Hey it’s me.” The grandparent guesses who it is and says, “Is that you, Alex?” The scammer answers “yes it’s me” and he goes on to say that he is in Canada or Mexico and has an awful problem and needs $5,000 wired to him right away. The scammer continues by offering to have a friend in the local area pick up the targeted grandparent, take him/her to the bank to withdraw cash and then to Western Union to wire the money. Another scam to watch for is someone calling to say that you won the sweepstakes. Be careful and don’t fall for any of these scams.