HEARING ADVISORY: Chairman Johnson Announces Field Hearing on Social Security Numbers and Child Identity Theft

September 1, 2011 — Hearing Advisory   

U.S. Congressman Sam Johnson (R-TX), Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security announced today that the Subcommittee will hold a field hearing on Social Security numbers (SSNs) and child identity theft.  The hearing will take place on Thursday, September 1, 2011 in the Plano City Council Chamber, 1520 Avenue K, Plano, Texas at 12:00 p.m. Central Standard Time.  

In view of the limited time available to hear witnesses, oral testimony at this hearing will be from invited witnesses only.  However, any individual or organization not scheduled for an oral appearance may submit a written statement for consideration by the Committee and for inclusion in the printed record of the hearing.  A list of invited witnesses will follow.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, between 2006 and 2008, approximately 11.7 million people were victims of identity theft.  The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) estimates that identity theft costs consumers about $50 billion annually.  Further, identity theft is often used to facilitate other crimes, including credit card, document, or employment fraud.  The Social Security number (SSN) is especially valuable to identity thieves who can use it to create a false identity in order to open accounts or obtain other benefits in the victim’s name.

Perhaps more disturbing is the growing trend in child identity theft.  There were 19,000 cases of child identity theft reported to the FTC in 2009, a 192 percent increase since 2003 when 6,500 cases were reported.

Family members may use a child’s name and SSN to obtain new credit. Other criminals may obtain a child’s name and SSN or use different names and birth dates to avoid detection as businesses granting credit may not ensure names, SSNs, or dates of birth match.  In the meantime, children of all ages whose SSNs have been compromised may discover years later that they have a record of bad debt including years of unpaid bills, credit card debt, or loan defaults.  Recently, the FTC has intensified its work regarding the growing problem of child identity theft, gathering identity theft experts and law enforcement officials for the first ever conference on child identity theft in July 2011 entitled, “Stolen Futures, A Forum on Child Identity Theft.”  

In announcing the hearing, Chairman Sam Johnson (R-TX) stated, “Identity thieves prey on the good credit of law abiding citizens.  Social Security numbers, even those belonging to children, are often the keys to pulling off these crimes.  Taking steps to stop the overuse of Social Security numbers and giving law enforcement better tools to stop these thieves will help prevent identity theft and further protect the privacy of all Americans and their children.” 

The Subcommittee will examine the emerging patterns of child identity theft, the role of SSNs in these crimes and steps families can take to help protect themselves.  Legislative options to help prevent these crimes and assist law enforcement will also be considered. 

Please Note: Any person(s) and/or organization(s) wishing to submit for the hearing record must follow the appropriate link on the hearing page of the Committee website and complete the informational forms. From the Committee homepage, https://waysandmeans.house.gov, select “Hearings.”  Select the hearing for which you would like to submit, and click on the link entitled, “Click here to provide a submission for the record.”  Once you have followed the online instructions, submit all requested information. ATTACH your submission as a Word or WordPerfect document, in compliance with the formatting requirements listed below, by the close of business on Thursday, September 15, 2011.  Finally, please note that due to the change in House mail policy, the U.S. Capitol Police will refuse sealed-package deliveries to all House Office Buildings. For questions, or if you encounter technical problems, please call (202) 225-1721 or (202) 225-3625.

The Committee relies on electronic submissions for printing the official hearing record.  As always, submissions will be included in the record according to the discretion of the Committee.  The Committee will not alter the content of your submission, but we reserve the right to format it according to our guidelines.  Any submission provided to the Committee by a witness, any supplementary materials submitted for the printed record, and any written comments in response to a request for written comments must conform to the guidelines listed below.  Any submission or supplementary item not in compliance with these guidelines will not be printed, but will be maintained in the Committee files for review and use by the Committee.

  1. All submissions and supplementary materials must be provided in Word format and MUST NOT exceed a total of 10 pages, including attachments. Witnesses and submitters are advised that the Committee relies on electronic submissions for printing the official hearing record.
  2. Copies of whole documents submitted as exhibit material will not be accepted for printing. Instead, exhibit material should be referenced and quoted or paraphrased. All exhibit material not meeting these specifications will be maintained in the Committee files for review and use by the Committee.
  3. All submissions must include a list of all clients, persons, and/or organizations on whose behalf the witness appears. A supplemental sheet must accompany each submission listing the name, company, address, telephone, and fax numbers of each witness.

Note: All Committee advisories and news releases are available on the World

Wide Web at http://www.waysandmeans.house.gov/.
SUBCOMMITTEE: Social Security