Social Security Numbers Can be Stolen for $16, Leaving Employers at Risk

Written by Brenda Lund on November 17, 2017

Let’s start off with an important disclaimer: NationSearch doesn’t advocate the theft of social security numbers. However, it’s no secret that in this age of big data and the Internet of Things, it’s super easy for criminals to obtain SSNs.

Unfortunately, thieves prey on the most vulnerable populations. In this case, children and the deceased are especially attractive to criminals that specialize in identity theft. According to Digital Journal, children are 51 times more likely to be victims of identity theft than adults. SSN thieves are especially drawn to children because the crime isn’t usually discovered until the child is old enough to begin making purchases and applying for credit. A child’s credit is most likely ruined beyond repair at this point, and the thief has long since moved onto another victim.

Deceased individuals are the next most popular source for identity thieves. An unfortunate loophole exists under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which allows people to obtain deceased individuals’ SSNs from the Social Security Administration (SSA). The worst part about this situation is also the best part for criminals: it only costs $10-$16 a pop to get this information.

Often referred to as "ghosting", the theft of a dead person’s SSN for financial gain is made all the easier due to the litany of government forms used throughout our lifetimes. Deceased populations create a huge reservoir of SSNs that are no longer being used, thereby producing the perfect opportunity for crooks to take advantage of the situation.

The Impact of Weak SSN Verification

Once a SSN gets in the wrong hands, it’s not only a nightmare for the person whose identity was stolen, it opens up a huge risk for employers. Stolen SSNs can be sold to people looking to slip through weak background check policies with the intent to work illegally. This growing epidemic in identity theft leaves employers vulnerable if they don’t have a method in place to validate that applicants are indeed who they claim to be.

Of course, no employer wants to illegally hire someone convicted of identity theft, or even worse, heighten the risk of a lawsuit. By fortifying the initial SSN verification process, employers can save on-boarding costs on invalid applicants while protecting the business from negligence lawsuits later on. Thankfully, there are plenty of employee screening services and safeguards in place for employers to shield both themselves and their employees from this disturbing trend.

What to Expect from Accurate Background Checks

In a world where identity theft is a growing trend, employers need to know that new hires are definitely who they say they are. One of the most effective identity screening resources is the preliminary Consent Based Social Security Number Validation (or CBSV for short). This search tells employers if the SSN provided by the applicant during the pre-hire process is valid. The CBSV is used to verify if the SSN holder’s name, date of birth, and SSN match SSA records, and answers the essential question: Is this individual using their legitimate SSN, or are they using a stolen SSN?

Additional identity screening services include federal and civil search, credit checks, social security number and address history traces. These extra security measures pull vital information linked to an individual social security number to help an employer avoid hiring someone who has committed identity theft.

Why SSN Verification is Worth the Cost

The cost of finding out if applicants are committing identity theft: $8.00. The value of resting assured that applicants are who they say they are: priceless.

Results from running a CBSV search are instant and very affordable. In fact, it can save employers a lot of money on comprehensive background checks overall. If results come back that a SSN does not match an applicant’s identifiers, the screening and hiring process can immediately stop.

Visit our Identity and Personal Screening Services page to learn more about how the CBSV search works, and how a comprehensive pre employment and social security background check can help your organization.

Additional Resources:

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Topics: Helpful HR Resources, Background Screening Education

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