WASHINGTON, DC – Americans whose Social Security numbers (SSNs) have been compromised or misused ought to have an easier time getting help from the Social Security Administration (SSA). To that end, the Ways and Means Committee adopted two bipartisan bills that cut red tape for Americans whose SSNs have been compromised or misused. Instead of being forced to navigate a complex web of federal bureaucracy to protect their or their child’s SSN from misuse, these bills streamline the SSA’s process for families seeking to replace a child’s compromised SSN and to protect themselves from the harm of identity fraud.
Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (MO-08) released the following statement after committee adoption of both bills:
“Republicans and Democrats in Congress are coming together to give peace of mind to Americans worried they or their children will face financial ruin because a criminal stole their identity. Social Security numbers provide access to key aspects of an individual’s personal and financial life – bank accounts, credit cards, mortgages, employment information. These bills help Americans protect themselves and their children from identity fraud.
“Thank you to Representatives Ferguson, Wenstrup, Larson, and Blumenauer for their leadership in cutting red tape standing in the way of Americans protecting their Social Security numbers from misuse.”
The Improving Social Security’s Service to Victims of Identity Theft Act
Introduced by Reps. Drew Ferguson (GA-03) and John Larson (CT-01), H.R. 3784 requires the SSA to provide victims of identity theft with a single point of contact at the agency when the misuse of their SSN results in the need to resolve an issue or issues with the SSA or when their Social Security card is lost in the mail.
- In 2022, there were over 1,800 reported data breaches, more than 1,100 of which included SSNs, impacting roughly 422 million individual records.
- Social Security numbers continue to be an attractive target for identity thieves due to their widespread use throughout the public and private sectors as an identifier and authenticator.
- Resolving an issue related to a lost or stolen SSN can be a long and complex ordeal, placing additional burdens on victims, and extending the time fraudsters have to misuse the SSN.
Read the bill here.
The Social Security Child Protection Act of 2023
Introduced by Reps. Brad Wenstrup (OH-02) and Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), H.R. 3667 requires the SSA to issue a new SSN to children under the age of 14 when their SSN card has been compromised while being mailed.
- Before the SSA will issue a new SSN, current SSA policy requires a numberholder to not only show that their SSN has been misused by a third party, but also that this misuse caused actual harm or disadvantaged the numberholder.
- According to a recent report, roughly 1.25 million children were the victims of identity fraud in 2021.
- Children are particularly vulnerable because they do not work, drive, or establish credit—thereby extending the time an identity thief can misuse a child’s SSN before being noticed.
- The time between theft of an SSN and its misuse can be many years, and child victims of identity theft often learn of the theft—or are harmed from misuse— years after.
Read the bill here.
Identity theft affects millions of Americans every year, including vulnerable populations like children and seniors.
- In 2020, financial institutions lost around $20 billion from “synthetic” identity fraud. Synthetic identity fraud is a form of financial fraud in which a real person’s information, such as their Social Security number or date of birth, is stolen and combined with other falsified personal information to create a new identity.
- In 2021, roughly 1.25 million children were victims of identity fraud, with each instance costing families an average of $372 out-of-pocket to resolve.
- In 2022, over 63 percent of reported data breaches included SSNs.