Why using social security numbers for something else than social security is bad...

I keep repeating around the world that using social security numbers for anything else than social security is a bad thing.

One of the reasons ID theft is so big in the USA is specifically because of that. Your SS number appears in so many communications you get from so many sources (why, for instance, would you need to give your SS number to your bank in order to open an account - do they expect to be responsible for deciding what money you get from social security?)...

This paper published some time ago explains how it is possible to predict SS numbers for a non negligeable number of US citizens using publicly available data... that should be one more (if not enough of a) reason to stop using SS numbers everywhere, like the US does.

Time to change that system... fast!

Comments:

Its just bootstrapping. In this case, its a way of identification. You wouldnt need it if we had a secure national ID card.
Your point is well taken, but this is not a unique practice. For example, DMV is the place where they gather organ donor info. Think about it!

Posted by Vijay Tatkar on March 24, 2010 at 10:45 AM CET #

Frightning, indeed... And definitely I rest my case. :)

Posted by Gilles Gravier on March 24, 2010 at 10:47 AM CET #

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