Fraud Let 100,000 Obtain Social Security Numbers; Fake Numbers Were Easy to Get for noncitizens.(NATION)
Byline: Stephen Dinan, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
More than 100,000 noncitizens may have obtained Social Security numbers in 2000 using fraudulent documents, according to a Social Security Administration report examining use of the numbers in the wake of the September 11 attacks.
James G. Huse Jr., the agency's inspector general, said the agency has been issuing numbers to noncitizens without completely verifying the authenticity of the supporting documents.
In 2000, that resulted in potentially 8 percent of 1.2 million new numbers assigned to noncitizens based on fraud.
And, he said, even with a post-September 11 push to coordinate with the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the agency is still not ready to authenticate requests for numbers when the supporting documents are issued by the INS.
"As a result, for at least several more months, [the Social Security Administration] will continue to issue SSNs to noncitizens without obtaining independent verification of evidentiary documents from the issuing agency," he wrote in the report, released earlier this month.
As Social Security numbers have become a de facto national identifier, their use - and abuse - has grown. The numbers are often the key to getting driver's licenses, bank accounts and credit cards in the United States.
Some of the 19 hijackers in the September 11 terrorist attacks opened accounts using fraudulently obtained Social Security numbers and then used the money in those accounts to pay for flight-training school. Also, a nationwide crackdown has found hundreds of persons employed in restricted areas at airports who used fraudulently obtained Social Security numbers.
Norman A. Willox Jr., chairman of the National Fraud Center and chief officer for Privacy, Industry and Regulatory Affairs at LexisNexis, said the amount of fraud identified in the inspector general's report isn't surprising. …