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AG Derek Schmidt leads bipartisan group asking Social Security Administration to implement new database to prevent identity theft

Release Date: Dec 10, 2018

TOPEKA – (December 10, 2018) – Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt today led a bipartisan group of 43 states and the District of Columbia in calling on the Social Security Administration (SSA) to implement a new database to prevent identity theft.

In an effort to combat synthetic identity theft, the attorneys general sent a letter asking the commissioner to prioritize the implementation of a new database system that meets requirements in a law recently passed by Congress.

“We ask you to evaluate and make necessary modifications to the Social Security Administration database and systems to comply promptly with this new provision of federal law. As enforcers of the data breach laws in our jurisdictions, we see the impact that exposure of Social Security Numbers can have. Our residents lose thousands of dollars a year and suffer from ruined credit scores, as well as a general sense of anxiety regarding their identity,” the attorneys general wrote.

Earlier this year, Congress passed Section 215 of S.2155, directing the SSA to develop a revamped database that will verify consumers’ information at the time it is requested, with consumer consent. The improved database will help address “synthetic identity theft,” where identity thieves use real Social Security numbers along with fictitious names and birthdates to manufacture new identities. The current system does not allow financial institutions to check identity on a real-time basis, but the new database system would protect vulnerable consumers by preventing identity theft before the manufactured identity can be used to open accounts or otherwise harm the real person whose Social Security number was used.

Schmidt and Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum led the letter, which was signed by the attorneys general from 43 states and the District of Columbia. A copy of the letter is available at https://bit.ly/2QlRNJw.

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