SSN is often thought of as a simple and traditional method of the US citizen’s verification. However, SSN has its specific purpose and has never been enough to properly confirm an identity.
Here we give you a detailed analysis of when and how businesses should or shouldn’t use an SSN check.
What is SSN?
SSN is a nine-digit number that the U.S. government issues to all citizens and eligible U.S. residents after filling SSN Verification Release Form. The government uses this number to keep track of an individual’s lifetime earnings and working history.
How to use SSN?
SSN is used to verify current or former employees for wage reporting (Form W-2) purposes. To warn you right here, this should be the only purpose SSN is used for.
Can SSN be used for identity checks?
It is true that the Social Security Number is unique to each individual, but it is not informative or secure enough to verify one’s identity.
SSN is just a number assigned by collecting written data and a signature on a paper form—an easily falsified document.
So, it is not proper and even illegal to use the service for identity, credit checks, mortgage applications, etc. More information about the limitations on the SSN verification can be found in SSNVS Handbook.
How to verify SSN online?
If you want to use SSN for its purposes and find it sufficient, the easiest way to verify it is via the US Social Security Administration. The Social Security Number Verification Service is a free online service that allows registered users to conduct basic checks manually. During the verification, the SSN immediately matches an individual’s name and date of birth.
1. First, you need to register on Business Services Online.
2. After you have logged in, select the Social Security Numbers Verification Service link and then Request Online SSN Verification.
3. After filling all the mandatory fields, including the EIN (Employer Identification Number), press the Submit button to process the data. The system displays the SSN Verification Results page.
How to verify large amounts of SSN data?
Even though SSN verification via SSA is a free option, it is inefficient with large amounts of data. There are some automated services that can handle way more checks at a time.
Extensive database services ( ex. Experian, Equifax, GDC);
Suits those who want to use a data source to develop their own solution for verification.
Identity verification & KYC services (ex. Sumsub 😉).
Suits small and medium-sized businesses that need a ready-to-use solution.
If SSN verification alone doesn’t satisfy your company’s purpose that also requires identity verification, read on.
What services can be used for an identity check?
Many companies rightfully do not approve of the SSN identity verification method and conduct proper checks on individuals’ ID documents and biometric data with the help of a KYC/AML provider.
It is important to understand that approach to verification allows not only to match the full name, date of birth, and address to an individual but to confirm that these are indeed the person’s full name, date of birth, and address.
Overall, SSN should be used mindfully of its purpose. As for identity verification, it is better to use a solution that combines and uses raw data, image authenticity analysis, database check, fraudulent patterns analysis, biometric check, etc.