Social security numbers (SSNs) are required for employment. If you are working for the first time, or if you are a business owner with employees, you might need to know how to check if SSN is valid.
There are many different ways to validate SSNs. The tools you use depend on who you are, what your purpose is, and how accurate you need the information to be. In this article, we discuss the importance of valid SSNs for employment and the best way how to check if SSN is valid.
The Importance of SSN for Employment
Social security numbers were introduced in 1936 by the Social Security Administration (SSA) as a way to track workers’ earnings over the course of their lifetimes and pay them associated benefits.
Individuals must have an SSN in order to work in the United States. The SSA assigns SSNs to U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and eligible nonimmigrant workers. U.S. residents who want to apply for work authorization from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will need an SSN.
Employers need accurate SSNs in order to correctly report workers’ earnings to the United States government, track SSA benefits, and properly identify their employees. Therefore, employers are required by federal law to verify the SSNs of existing and prospective employees. Without an authorized workforce, business owners could face governmental fines, penalties, and sanctions.
How to Check if SSN is Valid for Employment
Valid SSNs are nine digits and, as of June 2011, are randomly assigned. They will always be formatted ###-##-####. There are also some patterns you will never see in a valid SSN. For example, the first three digits will never be “000”, “666”, or any number in the 900s. The middle two digits will never be “00”, and the last group of four digits will never be “0000”.
So if you see any of these patterns in a potential SSN, you will automatically know that it’s invalid. Nine-digit numbers not assigned by the SSA are also invalid. However, you can’t know whether or not a number has been assigned just by looking at it. It’s also not safe to assume or take someone’s word for an SSN’s validity.
Here are some reasons why verifying SSNs is important:
Individuals are typically eligible to enter the workforce when they turn 16 years old. Therefore, most people first need their SSNs around the time they start their first job; this is usually the point where teens take possession of their social security card from their parents.
If you have never had a job before, you will need your SSN to start one. This applies to self-employment as well. Self-employment earnings need to be reported to the government. So, you need to have your SSN even if you work for yourself.
Depending on your situation, you might not know where your social security card is or what your SSN is. A social security card is the record of your SSN that the SSA provides you with. However, you don’t always need to request a replacement card if you don’t have one; in most cases, just verifying your SSN is enough.
If you are at least 18 years old, you can use e-Verify for free to check if the SSN you have for yourself is accurate or to check your employment eligibility status. Verifying your own SSN ensures that any application you submit gets processed quickly. It prevents employers from having to ask for supporting documentation.
If you are a business owner, you might have employees whose earnings you have to report at the end of the year to the U.S. government. You can only do this correctly if you have accurate, valid SSNs for each of your employees. Failure to do so could result in fines, penalties, and/or sanctions.
It is also your job as a business owner to make sure you don’t employ anyone who isn’t eligible to work in the U.S. You will know if your employees are by validating their SSNs. Validating workers’ SSNs verifies their identity as well as confirms their eligibility for employment.
Business owners validating SSNs have to be approved before they can get access to other people’s sensitive information. Since SSNs are sensitive personal information, when searching for other people’s SSNs, you have to provide proof of a legitimate reason for requesting access to the information. This is referred to as permissible purpose.
The good news is that as long as you aren’t trying to do anything illegal or unethical, you can easily validate employee SSNs by providing your company EIN and other clarifying information regarding your business and purpose. Then, you can verify that your employees are eligible for employment and can properly report their earnings for payroll and tax purposes.
To verify the SSNs of employees, use the SSA’s Social Security Number Verification Service (SSNVS). Consent Based SSN Verification (CBSV) verifies name, date of birth, and SSN match to SSA records with the consent of the SSN holder. This service also provides a death indicator. It does not verify an individual’s identity. Fees for this service include a one-time $5,000 initial enrollment fee, and a fee per-SSN verification transaction.
Depending on your needs, however, you might be able to find information for less.
How to Check if SSN is Valid Online
When looking for online SSN validators, you should be wary of non-governmental sources. Prior to June 2011, before randomization, validation websites were able to use an algorithm that could provide relatively accurate SSN information. This is due in part to their previous geographic assignments. For example, the first three digits of the SSN used to reliably indicate what state the number had been issued in. Furthermore, the SSA used to publish a list each month of the highest numbers assigned. Obviously, randomization made SSNs much more difficult to predict and much more secure.
Therefore, SSN validators not affiliated with the IRS, DHS, SSA, or other branches of the government aren’t able to provide the most accurate reports and do not offer official results. They do have their place in the instances of personal inquiries and private searches. But for accurate information needed to verify employment eligibility, it’s best to stick to government databases to source your information.
How to Check if SSN is Valid Using Searchbug
Searchbug’s SSN validator is designed for business owners who want to verify the validity of an SSN. It uses premium information systems that obtain actual information associated with real people. It does not provide the name or address of the person associated with an SSN. However, it does verify the SSN of current employees.
Searchbug’s social security number validation tool reports where and when an SSN was issued and whether it belongs to a living or deceased person. Just enter the nine-digit SSN to find out whether the number is valid or invalid; the state and the year or year range when the SSN was issued; whether the SSN is active, reserved for future use, or if it belongs to a deceased person; and death record including full name as well as date of birth and death dates when available.
Most importantly, the information you get from Searchbug’s SSN validator is sourced from SSA records and SSA’s death master file index. Searchbug is affiliated with the SSA, so you know that results are completely accurate.
The only catch is that you must create a business account in order to get access to this information. Connect your Google, Facebook, or LinkedIn account to login, or provide your name, email address, and password. Then, provide your business information: company name, address, phone number, company type and industry, business activity, and how the information will be used. The fee for this service is only $0.50 or 50 Search Tokens ($T).
Other SSN Lookup and Verification Services
There are many ways to get SSN information, as long as you have a legitimate reason for requesting the information.
For example, you can match SSN and last name to verify that an SSN matches the person who provides it whether it be employees, customers, clients, or anyone receiving a 1099 from you.
SSN and name match determines if the SSN and name combination you have match. With this search, a professional researcher reviews your results to ensure accuracy. Similarly, reverse SSN search assigns an investigator to your case who works to locate your subject’s name, address, phone number, and more.
Use the find SSN from name and address search if you need to find the SSN for a person. Just enter the subject’s name and address and indicate the reason for the search. The search is conducted using several proprietary systems to accurately locate the SSN of your subject. Keep in mind that the SSA does not provide the information in this case.
The reverse SSN lookup allows you to verify an SSN, locate names, aliases, addresses, and possible phone numbers associated with a valid SSN. This tool also works to verify an SSN in your database or on an employment application to make sure it actually belongs to the right person. Information comes from public records and SSN databases.
Finally, you can order a professional skip trace. Searchbug partners with several data providers and pays hefty monthly fees to access data that provides users with contact information for those difficult-to-find (and intentionally hiding) individuals. You will need to create a professional business account to apply for restricted access to skip tracing data.
As you can see, Searchbug’s SSN services extend beyond just showing you how to check if SSN is valid for employment purposes. SSN lookup and validation tools serve multiple industries and a variety of purposes such as locating an SSN to issue a 1099 during tax season, filing court paperwork or lawsuit, locating someone for collection on a debt, tracking down back child support, or investigating fraud. You can use SSN searches to get information regarding bankruptcy or liens or to conduct judgment searches. You might also need to find an SSN to conduct a skip trace or professional people search.
Whatever your needs, Searchbug has your SSN search covered. The main takeaway is that you only use information from reliable sources. This includes government branches and companies like Searchbug who are affiliated with the IRS, DHS, or SSA that get verifiable, official results.