Monthly Archives: December 2017

Requests For Social Security Numbers Leads to Identity Theft

A patient at a Washington state medical clinic was asked for his Social Security number numerous times. Many of us have endured this familiar process. Considering the recent buzz about identity theft, this patient became concerned about releasing his own sensitive personal data, and requested that the facility remove his Social Security number from their records. The clinic refused, the patient put up a stink, and was ultimately ejected from the facility. The clinic considered his request unreasonable, and a violation of their rules and regulations. So, who’s right and who’s wrong?

One Saturday afternoon, years ago, my spouse and I went to a major chain that rents videos. The account was under my wife’s name, but she didn’t have her card with her that day. Upon checkout, the pimply faced 17-year-old clerk said, “No problem,” and asked for her Social Security number, which appeared on the screen in front of him. I freaked out and was ejected from the store. So, who’s right and who’s wrong?

In both cases, the customer is wrong. That may not be the answer you were expecting. I was wrong and the patient was wrong.

In general, routine information is collected for all hospital patients, including the patient’s name, address, date of birth, Social Security number, gender and other specific information that helps them verify the individual’s identity, as well as insurance enrollment and coverage data. And due to federally mandated laws like HIPAA, they are careful to maintain confidentiality of all patient information in their systems.

Corporations such as banks, credit card companies, automobile dealers, retailers and even video rental stores who grant credit in any form are going to ask for your name, address, date of birth, Social Security number and other specific information that helps them verify your identity and do a quick credit check to determine their risk level in granting you credit.

The Social Security Administration says, “Show your card to your employer when you start a job so your records are correct. Provide your Social Security number to your financial institution(s) for tax reporting purposes. Keep your card and any other document that shows your Social Security number on it in a safe place. DO NOT routinely carry your card or other documents that display your number.” But beyond that they have no advice and frankly, no authority.

Over the past fifty years, the Social Security number has become our de facto national ID. While originally developed and required for Social Security benefits, “functionality creep” occurred. Functionality creep occurs when an item, process, or procedure designed for a specific purpose ends up serving another purpose, which it was never intended to perform.

Here we are decades later, and the Social Security number is the key to the kingdom. Anyone who accesses your number can impersonate you in a hospital or bank. So what do you do when asked for your Social Security number? Many people are refusing to give it out and quickly discovering that this creates a number of hurdles they have to overcome in order to obtain services. Most are often denied that service, and from what I gather, there is nothing illegal about any entity refusing service. Most organizations stipulate access to this data in their “Terms of Service” that you must sign in order to do business with them. They acquire this data in order to protect themselves. By making a concerted effort to verify the identities of their customers, they establish a degree of accountability. Otherwise, anyone could pose as anyone else without consequence.

So where does this leave us? I have previously discussed “Identity Proofing,” and how flawed our identification systems are, and how we might be able to tighten up the system. But we have a long way to go before we are all securely and effectively identified. So, in the meantime, we have to play with the cards we are dealt in order to participate in society and partake in the various services it offers. So, for the time being, you’re going to have to continue giving up your Social Security number.

I give up mine often. I don’t like it, but I do things to protect myself, or at least reduce my vulnerability:

How to protect yourself;

* You can refuse to give your Social Security number out. This may lead to a denial of service or a request that you, the customer, jump through a series of inconvenient hoops in order to be granted services. When faced with either option, most people throw their arms in the air and give out their Social Security number.

* You can invest in identity theft protection. There are dozens of companies offering a variety of services to protect you in different ways. These services can monitor credit reports, set fraud alerts or credit freezes, restore damaged credit, and sweep the net looking for stolen data.

* You can attempt to protect your own identity, by getting yourself a credit freeze, or setting up your own fraud alerts. You can use Google news alerts to sweep the net and take precautions to prevent social media identity theft.

* Protect your PC. Regardless of what others do with your Social Security number, you still have to protect the data you have immediate control over. Make sure to invest in Internet security software.

Spanish Social Security System – How to Qualify

Everyone must have medical assistance in Spain, either from the Spanish Social Security, which is free, or from a private insurance company. If you are from a country in Europe you can qualify for Social Security Services.

Holidaymakers from Europe must bring their blue European Card from their country for emergency medical assistance.

However if you decide to relocate to Spain and become a resident then this card will not be sufficient, as a resident you can benefit from all of the Spanish Social Security Services.

If you are a pensioner you need to make sure that you get the E-121 form from your home country. This you should take to your local Social Security office.

If you are not a pensioner you need to pay monthly fees. If you work in your own business you must register with your local office. Once done you should set up a direct debit for the monthly payments to be taken from your bank account.

For both of these options you will need to have a good level of Spanish to fill in the forms and to talk to the workers in the office, alternatively you can get a Consultant (Asesoría) to do it for you. This option will save you time and in my experience the cost of a Consultant is not too high. You will need copies of your Residents Card or Certificate and your NIE number. In due course the card will be sent to your address so that you can present it when you make an appointment with a doctor or if you have to go to hospital.

If you work as an employee your employer will arrange this for you.

If you have children then you will need to get them a card as well, you can apply for a child or children at the same time as applying for yourself – the Social Security numbers for your children are then associated to your card and your payments cover them.

You should remember to carry your card with you as you will need it whenever you make a medical appointment or want treatment at a hospital – do make a note of the numbers in case of loss!

People Search by Social Security Number – Find and Locate People Alive Or Deceased

The Role of the SSN

Before specifically reviewing some of the tactics, resources and benefits that can be gained by performing a people search using a social security number, giving a brief history of the SSN and its use over time can provide a glimpse into what someone should expect when doing a search.

1) The role of the SSN has changed since its introduction 1936. Originally, as part of the New Deal, it was assigned by the Secretary of Health and Human Services to track social security programs.
2) The SSN is not entirely randomly-generated. The procedures for issuing SSNs has changed over the years, and a SSN can reveal an individual’s relative age as well as the place where the request was made.
The first three numbers called the “area number” are keyed to the state in which the number was issued. The next two are known as the”group numbers” which indicate the order in which the SSN was issued in each area. The last four or “serial numbers” are randomly generated.
3) Initially intended to be used primarily by the US government, in 1961 the IRS through authorization of the Congress determined to utilize it for all tax purposes by establishing it as a taxpayer identification number.
4) The use of the number spread from employee records to school records, from medical reports to credit reports, and a wide variety of others purposes. In recent years, the SSN has turned into a standard national identification number.US citizens in the past were not required to have an SSN before the age of 14. Today, Social Security numbers are needed by children before they reach the age of one.
5) Understanding the potential danger and widespread abuses of using SSNs as universal identifiers, the provision in the The Privacy Act of 1974 attempts to limit the use of the number to those who exhibit a clear legal authority to collect the SSN.
6) Only in the event of identity fraud, stalking or with a court order, will the Social Security Administration generally issue a new social security number to an individual. Social security numbers can only be issued by the Social Security Administration.
7) According to the SSA, social security numbers are not reassigned or reused. When an individual dies their social security number is removed from the active files. The present 9 digit combinations of SSN’s allow for up to a billion unique combinations.

Resources for People Searches using SSN

The reasons for trying to initiate a people search using a social security number can be divided between professional and personal needs.

Employers
Employers want to validate and perform a background check on a new employee. A great resource for small business owners is through a website and service called E-Verify. According to their website “E-Verify is an Internet-based system operated by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in partnership with the Social Security Administration (SSA). E-Verify is currently free to employers and is available in all 50 states. E-Verify provides an automated link to federal databases to help employers determine employment eligibility of new hires and the validity of their Social Security numbers.” To use the service, registration is required and the completion of a tutorial ensures the employer is up to date with instructions and other related materials on E-Verify procedures and requirements. E-Verify verifies a new hire’s employment eligibility, not his or her immigration status. However, as a participant an employer cannot use the program to prescreen applicants or verify employees selectively. All new hires must be verified while participating in the program.

Individuals
Individuals using an ssn to people search, have interests customarily following one of four tracks:
1) Background on a Name using a SSN
2) Verification of a SSN
3) Confirmation if information is being used fraudulently
4) Beneficiary gathering information on a relative/person who is deceased.

Having a social security number to begin the process is an extremely powerful tool, and having a SSN accompanied with a name can make quite a bit of information available to you. Since most of the information is public record you want to begin your search with your city and town halls and other local and federal government agencies. Most of these agencies usually have their own online sites that can be referenced for the specific information they provide. Although free and readily accessible, if you’re trying to get information other than an address, the process can become fairly time consuming as you navigate between agencies and departments to get complete answers.

The alternative is to seek out the services of an online pay or subscription people search service. There are some websites that claim to give a “free” search, which in most cases are just a verification that your initial query has returned someone in their database that may match the person you’re looking for.

If you’re looking up a name and ssn or verifying an ssn the minimum results should return names, aliases, AKA’s along with addresses that are associated with a Social Security Number.

For those looking to confirm or prevent the illegal use of their information, some companies offer a monitoring services to identify and issue alerts of any suspicious or fraudulent activity with the number.

If you are a beneficiary retrieving information regarding a deceased love one, a service free to you and also utilized by the pay services is the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File. You can access the DMF at http://www.ntis.gov. (The National Technical Information Service). This database has been authorized by the SSA as an verification tool however, you are cautioned to beware of inaccuracies. For example, if there is a query that returns no record, you do not want to assume that a person is alive, because records in the death index generally mean that a death benefit has been paid out by the government.

Do keep in mind, any pay service that you are considering using to find, locate or people search anyone alive or deceased using a social security number should provide the following features:

• Instant and Unrestricted access to lookups
• Printable Reports
• Private as well as Public sources
• Expert, knowledgeable customer support