Field Office Verification of Social Security Numbers Scheduled to End August 1
By Steve Kofahl
Unmoved by objections from Social Security advocates, the Senate Special Committee on Aging, and at least 123 Democratic and Republican members of the House of Representatives, the Social Security Administration will prohibit its field office employees from providing written Social Security Number Printouts effective August 1, 2014.
Those who need written verification of their Social Security Numbers and have misplaced their Social Security Cards, will have to visit a field office with appropriate documents, request replacement cards, and wait a minimum of 7-10 days to receive them in the mail. Nearly 6 million people visited field offices last year to obtain Social Security Number Printouts that they
lar service is that the Printouts have no “security features.” Social Security Cards have no security features either, and are easily replicated. In fact, counterfeit cards are a standard part of the package that identity thieves and other criminals have been selling for years. AFGE is unaware of any instance in which a Social Security Printout, or a counterfeit Printout, has been used for illegal purposes.
Furthermore, an SSA telephone call providing a Social Security Number to an employer or agency in an emergency situation is clearly insecure. Telephone calls are regularly monitored for quality assurance purposes, and there is no way to know whether anyone has been listening-in on any particular call, or who has been listening-in. The Agency’s solution for providing immediate verification in emergency situations creates a new security risk.
SSA wants employers and financial institutions to pay fees to verify Social Security Numbers rather than send job applicants to field offices, but there is no incentive for them to do so.
The Consent Based SSN Verification Service is only available to employers and institutions who pay a one-time non-refundable $5,000 fee, so only the largest organizations utilize the service, but an alternate service for verification of 10 or fewer Social Security Numbers still comes at a cost. Neither service is reliable, since the requesting organization merely submits a name and number, and just gets a “match” or “no match” response. Name variations or misspellings in SSA records will result in an incorrect “no match” that could have been resolved on the spot if a Number Holder had instead visited a field office.
SSA also suggests the use of “E-Verify”, a system that has also been proven to be unreliable, and to be misused and abused by employers. The National Immigration Law Center website contains excellent information about E-Verify.
On July 17, SSA announced that it will not stop providing Benefit Verification Statements after September 30, 2014, a service used last year by 5 million visitors who need proof of income in order to receive assistance from other agencies and organizations. That was a direct result of public pressure, but it may only be a temporary reprieve.
It is also rumored that field office closings have been temporarily suspended due to public and Congres-sional pressure.
We can successfully push back against service cuts at SSA.
We will keep you updated about what you can do at the www.afge.org “Save Our Social Security” site.
Steve Kofahl is President of AFGE (American Federation of Government Employees) Local 3937 and a member of PSARA’s Executive Board.