Breach, Data Security, Network Security

House bill mandates high-tech Social Security cards

Two Republican congressmen from Illinois have proposed legislation that would update the Social Security card for the age of cybercrime.

U.S. Reps. Mark Kirk and Peter Roskam announced on Monday their proposal of the Social Security Identity Theft Prevention Act, a bill that would require tamperproof and wear-resistant Social Security cards to contain a photo of its holder and a biometric sample, such as a fingerprint.

The legislation would also require new Social Security cards to contain an encrypted bar code, according to a statement issued by the GOP representatives.

“Since Social Security started in 1935, more than 450 million Social Security cards have been issued,” said Kirk. “Over the years, we've had 50 card variations, but all have one common element – they are too easy to counterfeit.”

As need for a revised card, the congressmen cited the more than 1,200 arrests made by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials last year for identity and benefit fraud, as well as the roundup of a Chicago illegal document ring that created up to 100 fake Social Security cards a day.

Last year, the Federal Trade Commission sought public comment to evaluate the use of Social Security numbers (SSNs) by private organizations, weeks after the President's Task Force on Identity Theft called for agencies to work with the private sector to determine if SSN use is necessary.

“Identity theft is the number one consumer complaint in Illinois,” said Roskam. “For years, individual states have taken proactive steps to update their identification cards, while the federal government has done nothing. Our nation's families, especially seniors, have worked and saved to secure their future and need the reassurance that their financial nest egg is safe.”

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