Bill Seeks to Protect Privacy of Your Social Security Number
Washington D.C. – U.S. Rep. John Tanner wants to enhance the privacy of Americans’ Social Security numbers (SSNs) and combat identity theft. Tanner, Chairman of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security, introduced the “Social Security Number Privacy and Identity Theft Prevention Act of 2009.”
The Federal Trade Commission reports that identity theft is the fastest-growing type of fraud in the United States . Private consulting firm Javelin Research and Strategy reports that almost 10 million Americans were victims of identity theft in 2008 – a 22 percent increase from the number of victims in 2007.
“Identity theft is facilitated by the easy availability of SSNs in many public- and private-sector records,” Tanner said in Congressional Record remarks when introducing the bill. “SSNs are valuable to criminals because they are relied upon by business to authenticate identity. They are the skeleton key that unlocks many other sources of private, personal information.
“While therSammany legitimate business and government uses for SSNs, the unrestricted flow of private personal information that includes SSNs often makes it too easy for identity thieves and other criminals to obtain SSNs for their own purposes.”
Tanner introduced the bipartisan bill Thursday along with U.S. Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Social Security.
“This common-sense bill would help stop access to Social Security numbers by restricting their sale, purchase and public display,” Johnson said. “It’s time to stop talking and take action to prevent ID theft and protect Americans’ privacy. Let’s get to work.”
The bill, among other provisions, limits the circumstances under which government agencies or private-sector companies can display Social Security numbers to the public, including on the Internet; sell or purchase SSNs; display SSNs on paychecks and identification cards; or employ prisoners in jobs that give them access to SSNs. The bill calls for additional criminal penalties for those convicted of misusing Social Security numbers.
About Congressman John Tanner
Tanner, a veteran of the U.S. Navy and Tennessee Army National Guard, represents the 8th Congressional District in West and Middle Tennessee. Co-founder of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Democrats, Tanner serves on the Ways and Means Committee, where he chairs the Social Security Subcommittee, and on the Foreign Affairs Committee. Tanner chairs the U.S. delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and is serving a two-year term as NATO PA President.