McCaskill Leads Bipartisan Push to Protect Missourians from Social Security Fraud, Identity Theft

Bipartisan Senators call on Social Security Administration to require financial institutions to confirm birthdate, name, Social Security numbers to crack down on ‘synthetic identity theft’

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill is leading a bipartisan group of Senators pushing the Social Security Administration to crack down on identity theft and better protect Missourians from fraud by requiring financial institutions to confirm names and birthdates match Social Security numbers in credit card applications.

“These scammers are using children’s stolen Social Security numbers to open fraudulent credit cards and crash their credit before they even graduate high school,” said McCaskill, a former State Auditor. “We’ve got to stay vigilant and ahead of the curve to protect Missourians’ identities and hard-earned savings—and it’s time for the Social Security Administration to make this commonsense fix to better protect consumers by bringing proper verification steps into the 21st century.”

McCaskill is joined in the effort by Republican Senators Tim Scott of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, and Democratic Senator Gary Peters of Michigan.

Synthetic identity theft, a type of fraud that is estimated to be the cause of 20% of credit card loans going bad and leading to more than $6 billion in losses, uses a combination of fake and real identifying information to open up credit cards, financial accounts, and obtain forms of identification. Typically, a scammer would use a real Social Security number that has been stolen and couple it with a fake identity to open up credit card accounts, oftentimes for minors or children.

“Given the push by [the Social Security Administration] and the broader federal government to modernize IT infrastructure, we strongly believe that the SSA should make provisions to accept the consent of an individual electronically in order to access [the Consent-Based Social Security Number Verification tool],” wrote the Senators to the head of the Social Security Administration. “It is within your authority to make this reasonable and overdue change to accept consent electronically without legislation.”

McCaskill’s bipartisan push would require the Social Security Administration to modernize the verification system it maintains to confirm a Social Security number matches a name and birthdate, allowing for financial institutions to use it for applications for credit cards and bank accounts which are processed electronically. Currently, the Social Security Administration’s database to confirm whether a name, birthday, and Social Security number are a match requires written consent from a customer on a paper application, preventing these checks from occurring on most financial applications except for mortgages.

Continuing her long-standing commitment to protecting Missouri consumers, McCaskill introduced major bipartisan legislation to help protect seniors from financial exploitation, and help protect identities of those impacted by the Wells Fargo scandal and the Equifax breach.

Full text of letter HERE.

Visit mccaskill.senate.gov/consumers to learn more about McCaskill's fight to protect consumers

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