Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Decent chance your SS# is being used by someone else
What are the odds someone else has used your Social Security number? One in 7.
That’s the stunning conclusion of a San Diego company's analysis of 290 million Social Security numbers, which found that 40 million of them have been attached to more than one name. The study, conducted by the fraud-fighting firm ID Analytics, is the first of its kind that’s been made available to the public.
We first wrote about the problem of “SSN-only” identity theft five years ago, and estimated that millions of Americans were on the “secret list of identity theft victims” whose SSNs had been misappropriated by an imposter to obtain work or credit.
The IRS often knows when this happens, when the imposter pays taxes. The Social Security Administration knows, too, for the same reason. And the nation's credit bureaus usually know, because the imposter often ends up applying for some form of credit. Plenty of financial institutions also have access to this information.
But no one is telling you. In short, all these government agencies and financial firms don't think you have a right to know.
We're no closer to finding out who's on that list today, but at least we now know how big the problem is: much bigger than we originally estimated.