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Using Social Security Numbers as ID Is a Bad Idea

They're too easy to steal
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 13, 2014 1:59 PM CST
Using Social Security Numbers as ID Is a Bad Idea
   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Chances are, your Social Security number is out there in wide circulation—everyone from the cable company to the bank to the doctor seems to require it. But as CNN reports, these numbers are hardly secure, with 6.5 million stolen this year alone. "This raises an important question," writes Jose Pagliery. "Why are we still using SSNs to verify our identities if they're so exposed?" The vulnerability combined with such widespread use seems to fly in the face of what any security expert would advise. So what to do? "The solution likely demands a combination of approaches," writes Michael Carney at Pando.

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For one thing, we can get stricter on who collects the numbers in the private sector. "There’s no reason 99% of merchants need to know or store SSNs," writes Carney. And in the financial services sector, maybe some kind of biometric security (fingerprints, for example) is a better option. The bigger point, though, is that it's time to start the conversation and to seriously "reconsider how we manage this data." Of course, given the weak protections already out there, it might be time to start thinking about insurance for identity theft, too, writes Brian O'Connell at MainStreet. (Read more Social Security stories.)

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