From the beginning of the Social Security
program in the United States in 1935 until the 1970s, the U.S. government
issued Social Security numbers (SSNs) to applicants based on their stated
identifying information. The government, however, did not ask for evidence
verifying that the information given was indeed correct or legitimate. With an
increased use of SSNs by both the government and private sectors, the SSN has
become a target of greater abuse, particularly in cases of identity theft.
Because of the U.S. government’s increased concerns about illegal aliens working
in the United States, SSN identity fraud, and the potential abuse of public
entitlement programs, in 2003 Congress legislated “evidence requirements”—such
as rigorous verification of birth certificates or immigration documentation—for
SSN issuing and for the replacement of already issued SSN cards. Even the
procedures have been made more rigorous for assigning SSNs to U.S.-born persons
aged 12 and older.
Identity Theft or Masquerading.
Policy Site. RM 00203.001 Evidence Required for an SSN Card. [Online, October
8, 2003.] SSA Policy Site. http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0100203001.