New Change to Social Security Numbers Affects Tenant Screening Practices

by Chris on July 25, 2011

The Social Security Administration is changing the way Social Security Numbers are issued.

For a number of years, the SSA assigned numbers using a geographic code that could be traced to the state of the applicant’s residency at the time of the application. That method was beneficial in tenant screening and could be used to catch fraud if information in the rental application or credit report conflicted with the geographic code.

Beginning this summer, the SSA will drop the geographic code and issue randomized numbers to new applicants.

This change is designed primarily to extend the longevity of the nine-digit SSN nationwide. The SSN says it hopes the change will also reduce the number of identity theft claims because it will be harder for forgers to come up with fake numbers.

SSN randomization will affect the SSN assignment process in the following ways:

It will eliminate the geographical significance of the first three digits of the SSN, currently referred to as the area number, by no longer allocating the area numbers for assignment to individuals in specific states.

It will eliminate the significance of the highest group number and, as a result, the High Group List–a monthly list of the last highest numbers issued up to that date, will be frozen in time and can be used for validation of SSNs issued prior to the randomization implementation date.

Previously unassigned area numbers will be introduced for assignment excluding area numbers 000, 666 and 900-999.

These changes may affect the way landlords and property managers use the SSN information to screen tenants, and may require policy updates to accommodate SSN randomization.

The new assignment process applies only to those receiving a Social Security Number for the first time.

This post is provided by Tenant Verification Service, Inc., helping landlords reduce the risks of renting with fraud prevention tools that include Tenant Screening, Tenant Background Checks, (U.S. and Canada), as well as Criminal Background Checks, and Eviction Reports (U.S. only).

Click Here to Receive Landlord Credit Reports.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.

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