Didyou know

Starting June 25, 2011 the Social Security Administration began to randomize the first 3-digits of newly issued SSNs.

Prior to this change the first 3-digits of a SSN, called the Area Numbers, reflected the ZIP code of the mailing address provided on the SSN application. The SSA is changing to randamize the assignment of Area Numbers to increase the longevity of 9-digit SSNs as well as to protect it's integrity.

Prior to randomization the highest valid Area Number for a SSN was 772. Randomization will eliminate the significance of the highest group number and, as a result, the High Group List will be frozen in time and can only be used for validation of SSNs issued prior to the randomization implementation date.

 

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Social Security Numbers

The Social Security number (SSN) is a 9-digit number issued by the United Sates of America to citizens, permanent residents, and temporary (working) residents under section 205(c)(2) of the Social Security Act, codified as 42 U.S.C. § 405(c)(2). The number is issued by the Social Security Administration to an individual. Its primary purpose is to track individuals for taxation purposes. In recent years the SSN has become the industry accepted national identification number.

What you need to Know:

  • Congress has proposed federal laws that will restrict the use of SSNs for identification and ban their use for a number of commercial purposes, e.g. rental applications.
  • There is no law requiring a U.S. citizen to apply for a Social Security number to live or work in the United States; however, it is required for parents to claim their children as tax dependents. It should be noted that the liklihood a person does not have a SSN in the USA is very slim, since most financial activties require the use of one. 
  • The Social Security number is a nine-digit number in the format "123-45-6789". The number is divided into three parts: area numbers, group numbers, and serial numbers

The Area Number, the first three digits, is assigned by the geographical region for all SSNs issued before June 25, 2011. Since 1973, when the SSA began assigning SSNs and issuing cards centrally, the area number assigned has been based on the ZIP code in the mailing address provided on the application for the original Social Security card. The applicant's mailing address does not have to be the same as their place of residence. Thus, the Area Number does not necessarily represent the State of residence of the applicant, neither prior to 1973, nor since.

Starting June 25, 2011, however, the SSA began randomizing the Area Number to both protect the integrity of the SSN and extend the longevity of the nine-digit SSN nationwide.

Prior to June 25, 2011 a valid SSN could not have an area number above 772, the highest area number which the Social Security Administration had allocated. Any person issued a SSN before this date will have an Area Number of 772 or below. Even with randomization of the Area Numbers 000, 666, and numbers 900-999 will still be invalid.

The middle two digits are the group number. They have no special geographic or data significance but merely serve to break the number into conveniently sized blocks for orderly issuance. There is a theory that the two middle digits can be used to identify a person's ethnic background. This is debunked as an urban legend on the Social Security Administration's website

The last four digits are serial numbers. They represent a straight numerical sequence of digits from 0001-9999 within the group.

The Following Numbers Are Not Valid
There are also special numbers which will never be allocated:

Numbers with all zeros in any digit group (000-xx-####, ###-00-####, ###-xx-0000). 

Numbers of the form 666-xx-####.

Numbers from 900-xx-#### to 999-xx-####.

Numbers from 987-65-4320 to 987-65-4329 are reserved for use in advertisements. 

Woolworth department stores had provided a sample SSN card in their wallets that had an SSN of 078-05-1120, and this number had been used by over 40,000 people falsly, the real owner of this number is deceased.

457-55-5462 is the SSN posted by the CEO of Lifelock on the web and in advertising.

When a person dies the SSA publishes this fact as the SSN is released to the public domain, this list is over 79 million records long and can be checked manually for free at Rootweb.com, look for the SSDI, or social security death indicator.

Some third party vendors include the SSDI indication with their service.

AdditionalResources

  • Introduction to Ecommerce Fraud Fundamentals.

    Provides participants foundation level knowledge about the theories, best practices and terminology surrounding electronic payment fraud. Presented in a standard format covering the history of eCommerce Fraud, consumer fraud, merchant fraud, fraudster motivation, fraud trends, identity verification and phishing.

  • Introduction to eIdentity Authentication and Verification

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  • The Fraud practice llc.

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