FTC Staff Comment Supports Proposed Social Security Administration Policy Change to Help Protect Children From Identity Theft

In a comment submitted to the Social Security Administration, the staff of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection expressed support for an SSA proposal designed to protect children from identity theft. Staff also recommended two refinements to the SSA proposal to provide further safeguards.

Under the proposal, the SSA would adopt a new policy to allow the Social Security number of a child under 13 to be changed in the event the child’s Social Security card was stolen in transit, the child’s Social Security number was incorrectly disclosed through SSA’s Death Master File, or a third party had misused the child’s number. Current policy allows such a change only with evidence of recent harm to the individual, which can be difficult to show for a child.

The FTC staff comment recommends that children age 17 and under be included within the new policy. Staff notes that many children who are victims of identity theft before age 13 may not know they have been victimized until they are older and applying for credit or an apartment. In addition, FTC staff recommends that language in the new policy allow reporting by parents, guardians, law enforcement and child welfare agencies as methods by which the SSA can receive notification that a child’s Social Security number has been stolen.

The commission vote approving the issuance of the comment was 4-0. The comment was sent to the SSA on April 12, 2013. (FTC File No. P065411; the staff contact is Megan Cox, 202-326-2282)

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