A new report (PDF) from the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) says that Americans’ Social Security numbers (SSNs) are still being exposed to potential identity theft and misuse attributed to federal laws riddled with loopholes and the lack of proper oversight of information brokers.
The GAO found that there are a number of federal laws and regulations that require agencies at all levels of government to frequently collect and use SSNs. Vulnerabilities persist in federal laws addressing SSN collection and use by private sector entities.
“For example, although federal laws place restrictions on reselling some personal information, these laws apply only to certain types of private sector entities, such as financial institutions. Consequently, information resellers are not covered by these laws, and there are few restrictions placed on these entities’ ability to obtain, use, and resell SSNs for their businesses. Vulnerabilities also exist in federal law and agency oversight for different industries that share SSNs with their contractors.” wrote Daniel Bertoni, GAO Director.
The report goes on to detail how private sector entities collect SSNs from various sources and how they use them for identity verification purposes.