Your social security number is essentially your identity, as it essentially acts as your password for everything from loans to taxes. Having this one number may seem convenient, but if it’s easy for you to use, then it’s definitely easy for fraudsters as well.
Social Security numbers were first issued nearly 80 years ago, but at that time they weren’t intended to be used as a form of identification. Nowadays, however, most banks and credit card issuers allow people access to an account if they have the correct Social Security number. It’s no surprise then, that in nearly 50% of data breaches, Social Security numbers were exposed. Although it’s hard to measure how identity fraud cases are due to stolen Social Security numbers, the effects of Social Security number misuse are quite clear.
Billions of dollars are lost each year to thieves who file for other people’s tax refunds. With the cost of black market Social Security numbers at only $3, it’s easy to see why they are so easily used again and again to commit fraud. Although there are no official plans to abandon Social Security numbers anytime soon, the government is considering ways to reduce the number of times Social Security numbers are used to identify people. The National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace, a program announced by Barack Obama in 2011, is an initiative that partners with the private sector in order to create an online user authentication framework. This initiate would create an Internet ID system, allowing people to interact with multiple government agencies rather than shuffling paperwork and private data via snail mail.
Biometrics, the use of fingerprints as a means to identify someone is also gaining popularity in certain countries. It’s already widely used for criminal and defense purposes, and even Disney theme parks use it in order to prevent visitors from sharing tickets.
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|Kenneth G. Marks has been practicing personal injury law since he was admitted to the California Bar in 1981. www.KmarksLaw.com|