Feds: SSA vulnerable to identity theft

Thursday, 10 July 2003, 2:13 PM EST

Congressional investigators working undercover obtained Social Security numbers for nonexistent newborns and used the Social Security numbers of dead people to obtain driver's licenses, exposing weaknesses at the Social Security Administration that could be exploited by identity thieves.

The thieves use a person's personal information, such as a Social Security number or credit card number, to establish a false name or citizenship, purchase goods or fraudulently apply for credit.

Investigators from the General Accounting Office, Congress' investigative arm, used counterfeit documents to build fake identities that included Social Security numbers.

Theodore Wern, an official from the Identity Theft Resource Center, said the Social Security number is the ``golden data'' of identity theft. Banks, medical offices and local governments increasingly rely on the unique number to identify and keep track of their customers and clients.

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