Digital Gov

SSA to offer electronic verification of Social Security numbers

Shutterstock imageID: 281684063 By Mark Van Scyoc 

The Social Security Administration plans to allow electronic verification of Social Security numbers by financial institutions, with a pilot program launching in June 2020.

The move is required under the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, which was signed into law last year. The plan is described as an anti-fraud measure in the legislation. The bill text notes that minors and recent immigrants are most susceptible to the kind of synthetic identity fraud -- the construction of a false identity using real information -- that can be enabled by the fraudulent use of Social Security numbers.

Currently, SSA requires signed paper documents provided by individuals expressing consent to have their Social Security number validated. The law calls for SSA to establish a fee-based verification service and a database for electronic Consent Based Social Security Number Verification (eCBSV) -- think eVerify for SSNs. SSA is required to fund the effort with fees paid up front by participating institutions, and the system must be able to process batch verification requests on a large scale.

In a June 7 notice in the Federal Register, SSA announced the launch of the program and put out a call for participants to apply to be part of the pilot or a planned expansion six months after the initial launch.

The notice specified that only those "permitted entities" that enroll in the program between July 19 and July 31 -- and pay for the service in advance -- will be eligible to participate in the first year of eCBSV. The law requires that SSA collect 50 percent of the costs of the system prior to development. Existing IT funds can also be spent on the project, however.

A similar notice was issued on FedBizOpps, but as of yet there has been no call to industry for vendors interested in building the eCBSV system.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


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