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Alliance Risk Group’s Teresa Goodwin, M.B.A., Manager of the Background Investigation Division, discusses the rise of stolen social security numbers by thieves who sell Credit Profile Numbers and applicant’s who slip under the radar using an illegal technique known as Synthetic Name Fraud. (Save the Date: Alliance is hosting a 20-minute educational webinar on this topic: June 10, 2 p.m. – More Details will be Available Soon!)

It never ceases to amaze me how far criminals, fraudsters and credit card thieves will go to blatantly advertise their illegal services. In my position as the Manager of the Pre-Employment Screening/Background Investigation Division at Alliance Risk Group, I see applications that reflect all kinds of unlawful activity that victimizes innocent people through identity theft. Employers are also potentially negatively impacted if they unknowingly hire applicants thinking they’ve cleared their verifications only to find out later they used trickery and illegal methods to hide their true identity.

The scams have elevated to a true art form and if you are not vigilant, thorough and knowledgeable, the offenders can easily get over on you. It’s important to stay one step ahead of them because their crooked ways keep evolving as new technologies emerge. Two areas that have become a booming business for lawbreakers include the sale of Credit Profile Numbers (CPN’s) and the escalation of Synthetic Name Fraud. I’ll also discuss a verification method that supersedes others when it comes to identity verification.

Credit Profile Numbers and Synthetic Name Fraud
The definition of a Credit Profile Number (CPN) is “Any 9-Digit number which can be used for credit.” These 9-digit numbers can be found in every bank, credit union, or financial institution as a SSN, ITIN, TIN or EIN. Credit thieves have found ways to pillage the social security numbers of real people and sell them as “CPN’s” to those who want to attach their name and date of birth to a new, “clean” social security number or to unlawful profiteers who make a lot of money reselling the lists to other wrong-doers. The practice is called “Synthetic Name Fraud.” These stolen social security numbers have been purchased and used by devious applicants to create new identities that would pass a background screening.

The thing that is most unbelievable about it is the blatant way they advertise these ill-gotten social security numbers on websites like Craigslist and YouTube. One official-looking CPN website even declares that CPN numbers are legal which just isn’t true. Here is an example of an actual ad on Craigslist. The spelling and punctuation are exactly as it appears in the ad:

    Time to make sum real money! This is the best deal online… take advantage and make thousands! Numbers are clean and ready to be used!…We guarantee that no-one else is using the CPN’s. Will Validate as being “ISSUED” by the Social Security Admin…AN ABSOLUTE MUST!!!! We guarantee that you or your clients will be able to start new Credit profile with our CPN numbers! Will pass all fraud alerts such as: SafeScan, Lexus Nexus, Red Alert, etc… Need Credit Card? Need Auto Loan? No Credit Score? No Credit History? No Problem! Get the Funding you need
  • 1 NUMBER FOR $75
    5 FOR $250
    10 FOR $350
    15 FOR $450
    20 FOR $500

Enumeration at Birth
So where do all the Social Security Numbers come from that are being peddled illegally as CPN numbers? One disturbing fact from the Federal Trade Commission declared that 500,000 people under the age of 18 are victims of identity theft every year. One of the reasons for this stems from the Social Security Administrations establishment of the Enumeration at Birth (EAB) in 1989. A social security card was issued to each newborn child beginning in 1989 which led to a glut of dormant SSN’s that thieves viewed as there for the taking. In addition, the Social Security Administration had to recently make changes to the way it issues SSN’s because perpetrators began exploiting vulnerabilities in the system and were able to correctly “guess” a person’s social security number. Criminals could then validate the number through one of hundreds of free social security number verification database resources available online.

SSN Randomization and Other Ramifications
As many of the children issued numbers since 1989 come of age and apply for jobs, loans, and colleges, etc., they are finding out their identities have been stolen and their credit has been compromised! In an effort to thwart thieves’ efforts at guessing the numbers, the Social Security Administration has initiated SSN Randomization as of June 25, 2011. Since 1936, the 9-digit number consisted of a 3-digit area number, followed by a 2-digit group number, and ending with a 4-digit serial number. Since 1972, the SSA has issued Social Security cards centrally with the area number reflecting the state, as determined by the zip code in the mailing address of the application. Among other changes, the SSN randomization assignment has eliminated the geographical significance of the first three digits of the SSN, by no longer allocating the area numbers for assignment to individuals in specific states. The purpose is to protect the integrity and extend the longevity of the nine-digit SSN nationwide.

Vigilance and Due-Diligence is Key/Consent-Based SSN Verification
Even with the Randomization process in place, there is no telling how many actual SSN’s have been stolen and are circulating out there. One resource we use to be absolutely sure applicants are who they say they are and they are not using stolen social security numbers is called Consent Based SSN Verification (CBSV). We have a paid subscription to this Social Security Administration service so that we can provide our clients with direct and instant access to the SSA Master File and Death Index verifying Name, SSN, Date of Birth, Gender, and Death Indicator. CBSV ensures 100% accuracy of data elements, regulatory compliance and protection against synthetic name fraud. The pilot program for CBSV began in 2002 but the current version was launched November 2008. CBSV requires signed consent of the Applicant/SSN holder on SSA-89 and can only be used for the specific business purpose designated on the SSA-89. CBSV provides real-time verification and handles large volume requests.

Don’t be scammed by applicants who have a correct name and date of birth on one hand and appear to have a correct SSN on the other – which is checked by a separate verification method. If you truly want to be sure the application is legitimate and not fall victim to Synthetic Name Fraud, I would suggest the CBSV SSN Verification method for true peace of mind.