Nov 1, 2012

Social Security Number Verification Problems

      From a recent report by Social Security Office of Inspector General (OIG) (footnote omitted):
In Fiscal Year (FY) 2009, SSA [Social Security Administration] implemented the CBSV program, which is a centralized, automated process that quickly assists companies with consent-based Social Security number (SSN) verification for non-program-related reasons. CBSV is available to private businesses as well as Federal, State, and local government agencies that need consent-based SSN verification. ...
SSA’s monitoring controls for the CBSV program need to be improved. The CBSV User Agreement requires that participating companies include the date of birth (DoB) on Form SSA-89.7 However, SSA did not require the DoB as part of the matching criteria for the CBSV program. As a result, SSA verified about 227,000 names and SSNs through CBSV without verifying DoB. Of the 227,000 transactions, 337 related to children who ranged in age from 2 months to 17 years. Because SSA verified the names and SSNs without a DoB, it did not alert participating companies to possible discrepancies between the DoBs provided by individuals and the DoBs recorded in SSA records. These false positive responses may have contributed to the misuse of children’s identities. We brought this issue to the Agency’s attention in a 2009 report, but SSA had not taken steps to require that participating companies submit the DoB as part of the verification request for the CBSV program.
SSA ... [said] that it was cost-prohibitive to change the CBSV system to incorporate the DoB in the verification process at this time. However, the Agency stated it would reevaluate this decision in the future, as resources allow. In the interim, the Agency plans to include more SSN verification disclosures related to minors’ records in the audit compliance review certified public accountants conduct for participating companies.
     The benefit as well as the problem with including the date of birth in the verification process is that it dramatically increases the number of people who are denied government benefit or employment due to Social Security's database. There is a benefit because people who are applying under a false Social Security number will be denied. The problem is that most of the discrepancies caught will be false positives, that is, people who are exactly who they say they are but for whom there is a mistake in the date of birth in Social Security's records or in the records of the requesting agency or employer. Each false positive is a person who is forced to correct a mistake that he or she did not create and who may suffer serious damage in the meantime. Correcting all the errors imposes a significant workload on Social Security at a time when the agency lacks a sufficient workforce to undertake its core functions.

1 comment:

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