4 Big Problems With Social Security Numbers

A Social Security number is like a skeleton key.

ByABC News
May 5, 2013, 10:50 AM

May 5, 2013— -- intro: A Social Security number is like a skeleton key, able to unlock a kingdom of untold riches for identity thieves. It is the central piece of data needed to hijack our credit, steal our health insurance, use us as human shields and generally wreak havoc in our lives.

And every day, two branches of the U.S. government -- the executive and the legislative -- put our identities and sometimes even our lives at risk because of their mismanagement of Social Security numbers.

There have been efforts in Congress to reform Social Security numbers but, unsurprisingly, gridlock has prevented that from happening. And while congressional inaction around Social Security number reform jeopardizes our future financial well-being, federal agencies' needless exposure of our Social Security numbers practically guarantees financial insecurity now.

Here are four ways congressional and federal foot-dragging around the issue of Social Security numbers puts our identities at risk.

quicklist:title:Identity Theft 911. His experience as former director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs gives him unique insight into consumer privacy, legislation and financial advocacy. He is a nationally recognized expert on identity theft and credit.