Home

Legislative Memo

BILL:

S.309(Nozzolio)/ A.11470(Abbate)

Support

SUBJECT:

Limiting the Use of Social Security Numbers

 

DATE:

June 14, 2004

 

SUMMARY
The Business Council of New York State, Inc. opposes the adoption of this legislation. The intent of this legislation is to combat identity theft and fraud. The sponsors' memo says that this legislation is supposed to be “limiting the instances when a person's Social Security Account number may be used, making the process of assuming one's identity more difficult.” This legislation does not correct that problem and is extremely broad in its scope.

HISTORY and CURRENT USE
Our society has changed greatly since the inception of the social security number is 1936. The use of our social security number has become a part of our everyday lives. It is used to check our credit, maintain our health records, file our taxes. Our social security number is also linked to the administration of government programs. Social security numbers are vital to ensuring that we are actually able to maintain our identity. For instance, if two people with the same name are applying for credit the credit company needs to be able to distinguish one person from the other.

FEDERAL STANDARDS
The legislative findings and declaration section of the bill would lead one to believe that there is an absence of federal statutory provisions protecting social security numbers from misuse and that it has become necessary to develop this legislation. The Federal Fair Access to Credit Transactions Act (FACT) was recently enacted in order to provide a balance regarding the use of social security numbers. FACT actually provides significant steps in identity theft prevention measures, which the Nozzolio/Abbate legislation is trying to combat. Why not give FACT an opportunity to work at the federal level?

BROAD BRUSH APPROACH
This legislation fails to take in to account many of the good uses of social security numbers and the importance of sharing this information. Law enforcement agencies routinely share social security numbers in order to track down criminals or potential witnesses. Social security number are used to crack down on parents that are behind in paying child support and are also used in attaching assets to satisfy court orders. Pension fund beneficiaries and missing heirs are found and paid what is owed to them through the use of social security numbers. Limiting social security numbers is such an expansive manner as proposed by this legislation would damage those programs that are working effectively. The bottom line is that the legislation does not address the issue of combating identity theft and fraud. It simply paints all uses of a social security number with a broad brush and limits their use.