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 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 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