Senators press Social Security Administration to update e-signature system

Newswire: Feb. 14, 2018.

Dateline: Washington.

A bipartisan gathering of senators is calling on the Social Security Administration to take more steps to protect Americans from identity fraud, which is accelerating in a phenomenon known as “synthetic identity theft.”

Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.) wrote the SSA to highlight the problem of synthetic identity theft and its relationship to fast-paced, streamlined credit approvals in the online marketplace. The four senators asked that the Social Security Administration modernize what is called the Consent-Based Social Security Number Verification System, or CBSV, to thwart this theft.

“Synthetic identity theft” typically targets unwitting victims whose SSN holders aren’t even yet borrowers; minor children, for example. It’s accomplished by combining the actual data of several persons and then supplementing it with made-up information.

The CBSV program the senators want updated requires a private sector user to acquire individual consent to verify a name, date of birth or Social Security number against a government-issued source. Instead of increasing security, the practice “negates the utility of CBSV to combat synthetic identity fraud,” the senators wrote. Additional, financial institutions are slowed down as they try to make determinations on consumer loans and other credit decisions.

“We strongly believe that SSA should make provisions to accept the consent of an individual electronically in order to access CBSV,” the senators wrote.

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