Social Security Numbers Will Be Randomized

On June 25, 2011, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will began assigning random Social Security Numbers (SSN).  The current numbering process had been in place since it was created in 1936.

The Social Security Number contains nine digits which are in groups of three, two and four. Prior to randomization, the first three digits indicated the issuing state; the fourth and fifth digits represented the group number; and the last four were the serial number.  The two-digit group numbers were on a verification list compiled by the Social Security Administration, which will no longer be needed. The first three digits will not use 000, 666, and 900 to 999.  The fourth and fifth digits will not use 00 and the last four will not use 0000.

Social Security Administration’s reasons for randomization

  • To protect the integrity of the system.
  • To extend the time the nine-digit numbers can be used.
  • Won’t have to replace the number system as soon.
  • Eliminate relating the first three digits to the issuing state.
  • Doesn’t limit the numbers that can be issued by a state.
  • Help to prevent identity theft and mortgage fraud by making it more difficult to determine the Social Security Number.  By knowing the state of birth, thieves already had three of the nine digits.

This change will only impact those that don’t have a Social Security Number already.  There won’t be changes to numbers that already exist.  There are no plans to re-assign Social Security Numbers; this will extend the numbers that can be used so the system won’t have to change any time soon.

Some of the fraud detection programs that use SSN as one of the factors will have to be changed.  SSNs are verified using the data provided by the SSA such as out of range SSN’s and the numbers of deceased individuals.  There will be less to verify in the programs.

At least the system won’t be changing soon and you SSN will not change. Hopefully, this will make it more difficult for fraudsters to try to determine your Social Security Number.

John Ulzheimer is the President of Consumer Education at SmartCredit.com, the credit blogger for Mint.com, and a Contributor for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.  He is an expert on credit reporting, credit scoring and identity theft. Formerly of FICO, Equifax and Credit.com, John is the only recognized credit expert who actually comes from the credit industry.  Follow him on Twitter here.

 

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