More than 20 million Americans have multiple Social Security numbers (SSNs) associated with their name in commercial records according to a new study from ID Analytics, Inc. The study also found that rather than serving as a unique identifier, more than 40 million SSNs are associated with multiple people.
"Our research shows that Social Security numbers, contrary to popular perception, do not uniquely identify an individual," said Dr. Stephen Coggeshall, chief technology officer, ID Analytics. "Most of these cases of duplication are likely due to simple data entry errors as opposed to deliberate falsification. Nevertheless, organizations expose themselves and their customers to risk if they solely rely on the SSN to verify an individual."
Other highlights of the study include:
  • 6.1 percent of Americans have at least two SSNs associated with their name.
  • More than 100,000 Americans have five or more SSNs associated with their name. More than 15 percent of SSNs are associated with two or more people.
  • More than 140,000 SSNs are associated with five or more people. Significantly, more than 27,000 SSNs are associated with 10 or more people.