NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Terrorists May Be Building New Identities on False Social Security Numbers

May 20, 2002

The Inspector General of the Social Security Administration is warning in a new report that tens of thousands of foreigners are illegally obtaining Social Security numbers by using fake documents. And federal officials still don't have a way to prevent the practice.

  • One in every 12 foreigners receiving new Social Security numbers do so using fake papers.
  • Preliminary data show that 100,000 Social Security numbers were wrongly issued to noncitizens in 2000.
  • Once a number has been assigned, terrorists and other criminals can obtain credit cards, open bank accounts and even obtain security badges needed for jobs at airports and other vulnerable locations.

Social Security officials say they need immediate help from the Immigration and Naturalization Service to help detect fraudulent applications. In particular, they want INS's electronic files on noncitizens. INS officials claim working more closely with SSA officials is a top priority.

Foreigners have obtained SS numbers by using counterfeit versions of visas, green cards and arrival and departure forms.

Source: Robert Pear, "Thousands Obtain Social Security ID with Fake Papers," New York Times, May 20, 2002.


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