The Federal Trade Commission is seeking comments on the uses of Social Security numbers in the private sector to reduce the overall incidence of ID theft, which often relies on SSNs. The FTC also plans to host one or more public forums on the issue in the coming months.
In issuing its strategic plan to address identity theft, the President’s Identity Theft Task Force, led by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and FTC Chairman Deborah Platt Majoras, recommended that Task Force agencies develop a comprehensive record on the uses of the SSN in the private sector and evaluate the necessity of those uses. The Task Force report, www.idtheft.gov/reports/StrategicPlan.pdf, recognized that a thorough examination would help policymakers and the private sector find ways to limit the unnecessary uses of SSNs, which frequently are used to commit identity theft. The Task Force recommended gathering information from stakeholders – including the financial services industry, law enforcement agencies, consumer reporting companies, academics, and consumer advocates – in making this assessment.
The Commission invites interested parties to comment on the various uses of SSNs by the private sector, the necessity of those uses, alternatives available, the challenges faced by the private sector in moving away from using SSNs, and how SSNs are obtained and used by identity thieves. The FTC asks that comments be as specific as possible, and include items such as studies, surveys, research, and cost estimates. Comments must be received on or before September 5, 2007. For more detailed information on how to submit comments and the specific questions and topics the FTC would like addressed in the comments, please see: http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2007/07/ssncomments.shtm.
The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, click http://www.ftc.gov/ftc/complaint.shtm or call 1-877-382-4357. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,600 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. For free information on a variety of consumer topics, click http://ftc.gov/bcp/consumer.shtm.