Congressional Corner: The Federal Government Must Be More Careful With Social Security Numbers

Congressional Corner: The Federal Government Must Be More Careful With Social Security Numbers

Rep. David Valadao (CA-21)

Each year, more than 13 million people become victims of some sort of identity theft or identify fraud resulting in over $16 billion of stolen money.  In fact, identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States.

Identity theft occurs when someone uses another's personal identifying information, like their name, Social Security number, or credit card or bank account number, without their permission, to commit fraud or other crimes.  Although identity theft can affect anyone, there are some groups that are targeted at a higher rate than others.  Children, senior citizens, and members of our military are often the most vulnerable to this type of crime.

Identity theft and related crimes, such as credit card and document fraud, pose real risks to the financial security of millions of Americans.  Furthermore, such crimes can jeopardize the economic stability of our country as a whole.

Many of us, including myself, take precautions in order to protect ourselves and loved ones from falling victim to such crimes. Unfortunately, no matter how careful you are, your efforts are futile if the federal government does not also protect your personal information.

Today, we are seeing a high prevalence of Social Security numbers unnecessarily printed on government issued - documents.  In fact, constituents in the Central Valley brought this very issue to my attention.  As you know, your Social Security number is the most important number issued to a United States citizen, permanent resident, or temporary resident.  This number is used for identification purposes in almost every facet of life and must be protected.

In an effort to protect Americans, especially children, senior citizens, and veterans, I introduced H.R. 3779, the Social Security Fraud Prevention Act.  While it may seem like common sense, my bill would prohibit the federal government from printing visible Social Security numbers on documents sent through the mail.  The legislation would also ensure the federal government only prints full Social Security numbers on documents when it is considered absolutely necessary.  By reducing the number of documents containing full Social Security numbers mailed, this legislation will help protect Americans, especially children, veterans, and senior citizens, from becoming victims of identity theft and fraud.

The federal government must be more careful with the personal information of all Americans. To learn more on ways to protect yourself from identity theft, or for more information on H.R. 3779, visit my website at