Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Chicken or the Egg?

I came across an interesting problem the other day. What documentation does it take to get a social security number? At birth they require just a birth certificate, but after age 12, well documentation gets a bit more restrictive.

After age 12 to obtain a social security number, the individual must:

  • Complete an Application For A Social Security Card (Form SS-5); and
  • Show documents proving:
    • U.S. citizenship;
      • U.S. birth certificate
      • U.S. consular report of birth
      • U.S. passport
      • Certificate of Naturalization or Certificate of Citizenship.
    • Age; and
      • birth certificate
    • Identity.
      • U.S. driver’s license
      • State-issued nondriver identification card
      • U.S. passport.
      • Employee ID card
      • School ID card
      • Health insurance card (not a Medicare card)
      • U.S. military ID card
      • Adoption decree.

  • Take your completed application and documents to your local Social Security office
If you do not have a social security number it is pretty doubtful you would have an employee ID. It also would be doubtful that you would have health insurance as well. Most states do not issue driver's licenses or State issued ID's without social security numbers. The military will not let you in without a social security number. To obtain a passport requires a taxpayer identification number, which the IRS will not assign to a United States citizen. If you have graduated it is doubtful you have a current school ID card. And finally if you are not adobted, you would have no adption decree.

What is interesting is that most of the documents to prove identity hinge off the social security number so what purpose does it serve to require these additional documents?


At 10:24 PM, Anonymous Jeff Pruitt said...


Another one for you:

Despite NAFTA allowing for the transfer of goods between US, Canada and Mexico, starting next year American citizens will need a passport to travel to either country. And the cost of a passport? Over $90. A family of 5 will have to shell out about $500 just to go to Canada or the Carribean.

Why do we have so much documentation? Social Security cards, different drivers licenses for every state, passports, birth certificates, etc...

At 7:20 AM, Blogger William Larsen said...

Jeff, you are absolutely correct. Why do we have so many different ID's and not one of them is secure?

On Tuesday they showed how nine individuals from homeland security used computers, software and scanners to make fake documents. Each and everyone were able to enter the US using these without the slightest question. They then showed the documents to a bar owner who correctly identified the false documents.

We have two problems: Individuals unable to identify fakes and unsecured ID's.

It is a shame we are going down this route. It appears our representatives have no idea how to handle this immense problem, but are going through motions to cover their collective butts.

At 7:48 PM, Anonymous Bob G. said...

This is just a VERY good reason why we have the phrase "Catch-22"...

Perhaps "if" we had an ID with say a THUMB print, then a scanner could read it, verify the identity of the card holder...over and done with. A secure way, as no 2 thumb prints are the same.
To me, it makes no sense to have places like the Pentagon able to utilize this along with retinal scans, while the general public is unable to cross a border (legally I might add) without forking out some major $$$ or having to deal with seemingly Victorian procedures for confirming IDs.

And it's not as though this kind of "tech" is not readily available..it IS!

But that could lead to illegal THUMB HARVESTING....and there we go all over again.



At 9:12 PM, Blogger William Larsen said...

You are correct in that every time we try to combat identity theft, the bad guys will come up with a method to get around it. My first solution would be to make using the social security number illegal to use for anything but social security. I would require Medicare recipients to be issued a totally different ID. I would also require the IRS use a third number for reporting of income (Wages, interest, dividends, etc). Driver's licenses would not be based on or use any of these three federal numbers. This would severely reduce the ability of identity thieves.

I would require the IRS to match taxpayer Identification numbers throughout the year with various employers and location. Anyone number that has more than one employer at the same time reporting income needs to be analyzed further based on geographical separation. Is it reasonable to have one person working two different jobs separated by 50 miles? Sure this would require some work, but it at least reduces the 160 million workers to a much smaller list to identify identity thieves as well as illegals.

I do not believe there is any way to truly identify an individual without physically marking them and this I would be 100% against.


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