Whether you are an employer or an employee, it is essential that you know about social security numbers (SSN) and what an SSN validator is used for. If you are an employer, you likely check SSNs during the hiring process and incrementally during audits for continued employment. If you are an employee, you must provide Social Security Copy A of Form W-2 annually so that they can check your name and SSN against their database. When the Social Security Administration (SSA) discovers a match, the W-2’s earnings data is added to your earnings history.
As a result, it is critical that the SSNs are correct so that you don’t have to deal with any problems afterwards. In this blog, we will talk about some pointers on how to keep your personal SSN safe. We’ll also help you figure out if you have the correct SSNs.
What is an SSN?
An SSN is a nine-digit number issued to U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and temporary working residents. It is used to track an individual’s earnings over their lifetime and is required for most financial transactions.
The first SSNs were issued in 1936 as part of the Social Security Act. The number was originally intended to be used for the sole purpose of tracking an individual’s earnings and calculating their benefits. However, over time, the SSN has become one of the most commonly used forms of identification. It is now required for tasks such as opening a bank account, applying for a credit card, or enrolling in school.
In June of 2011, the SSA modified the manner in which they issue numbers. Randomization is the name for the alteration, and its objective is to assist in maintaining the SSN’s integrity.
A three-digit area number, a two-digit group number, and a four-digit serial number have always been part of the SSN. Since 1972, the SSA has issued cards centrally, with the area number reflecting the state, as determined by the ZIP code in the application’s mailing address. The new randomization update changed the assignment process by decreasing the geographical significance and importance of the highest group number, which had restrictions.
Uses of an SSN
The social security number is used for a variety of purposes, including:
1. Taxation – The SSN is used to track your earnings and report them to the IRS. The IRS uses this information to calculate your taxes.
2. Employment – Your SSN is required on most employment applications. Employers use it to run a background check and verify your identity.
3. Benefits – If you receive government benefits, such as Social Security or Medicare, your SSN is used to track your eligibility and payments.
How to Keep Your SSN Safe?
Your social security number is a critical piece of information. It’s important to keep it safe and protected in order to guard against identity theft. Here are some tips on how to protect your social security number:
1. Don’t carry your social security card with you. Keep it in a safe place, such as a locked drawer or safe.
2. Don’t share your social security number with anyone unless absolutely necessary.
3. Be careful when providing your social security number online. Make sure the website is secure and that the form is encrypted.
4. Check your credit report regularly for unauthorized activity.
If your SSN has been compromised, it is important to take action right away. You can start by contacting the major credit bureaus and placing a fraud alert on your credit file. This will make it more difficult for someone to open new accounts in your name. If you find anything suspicious, be sure to report it to the credit bureau immediately.
By following these tips, you can help protect your social security number from identity theft. For more information on how to protect your identity, visit the FTC’s website.
How to Know if You Have a Valid SSN?
Let’s take a look at the best practices for verifying social security data.
1. SSA Website
One method is to use the SSA’s website. The SSA website allows you to look up a person’s name and SSN to see if it is valid.
The Consent Based Social Security Number Verification Service (CBSV), which was launched in August 2007, is the only means for employers to legally request for a pre-hire SSN verification directly from the SSA. The CBSV is a fee-based system that requires the SSN holder’s written approval and only permits the results to be used for the reason stated on the consent form. The subject’s physical signature is required on the forms, and consent is normally valid for 90 days from the date of signature.
The CBSV checks if a given name and SSN match the information in the SSA’s Master File of Social Security Numbers. The SSN, name, date of birth, and, if available, a gender code are among the matching factors. Each SSN and name combination sent to CBSV will return a yes or no verification code that identifies whether the inquiry matches or does not match SSA records. CBSV returns a death indicator if the SSN holder’s records reflect that he or she is deceased. The identification of an individual is not verified by CBSV verifications.
2. Searchbug’s SSN Validator Service
Although there are free SSN validator services available, they are often not accurate. To get the best results, use a trusted paid service like Searchbug’s SSN Validator. This tool tells you where and when an SSN was issued. It also identifies if the SSN belongs to a living or deceased individual.
The SSA modified the manner it issued social security numbers on June 25, 2011. SSN Validation tools employed an algorithm based on the predictable nature of how SSNs were issued by each state prior to June 25, 2011. For example, the first three digits of a Social Security number used to be a reliable predictor of the state in which the number was issued (if you got your SSN in a small populated state like Alaska your SSN started with 574). Larger states, such as New York, have a range of numbers ranging from 050 to 134.
The SSN then released monthly listings of the top numbers issued for each group of SSNs issued, making these SSN validator algorithms fairly reliable. The SSA, however, randomized it for security reasons and discontinued publishing lists after June 25, 2011. Due to SSN randomization, free SSN verification services are unable to identify whether or not a Social Security Number has been issued.
As an employer looking to verify employees’ SSNs, go to the SSA’s Social Security Number Verification Service page or go to eVerify. Please keep in mind that the Searchbug SSN Validator relies on premium information systems to collect real-world data. This service does not reveal the name or address of anyone linked with the SSN, and it can only be used to verify the SSN of current employees for limited purposes.
Consent Based SSN Verification is the SSA’s official SSN verification tool for businesses. The CBSV program charges a $5,000 sign-up fee as well as a price for each SSN verification. That may be a preferable choice if you have a large number of SSNs to validate. This SSN validator should be enough if you only have a few searches a day or a few hundred a month.
3. SSA Office
An offline method is to contact the SSA directly and request a copy of the person’s social security record. Similar to the online search, this will require the SSN holder’s written approval. Only permits the results to be used for the reason stated on the consent form.
Anyone can ask for your SSN under federal law, but you are under no obligation to provide it. It is best if you don’t use your Social Security Number too often. Just because someone asks for it doesn’t necessarily mean you should give it. When an employer needs it, you can simply give them consent to validate your SSN.
Though most medical providers will ask for your SSN, you can leave the line asking for it blank when filling out medical papers, and no one will be the wiser. Other information can be used to identify you and follow your records by your doctor’s office and other firms. While you have the option of refusing to submit your Social Security number, the other party has the option of refusing to conduct business with you as well.
Many companies will request for your SSN simply because it is a quick and easy way for them to identify clients. Unfortunately, identity thieves can use your SSN to steal your identity, so keep it safe and only give it out when absolutely needed.