OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorney General Mike Hunter today joined a bipartisan coalition of 43 attorneys general in asking the Social Security Administration (SSA) to comply with a new provision of federal law that aims to protect consumers from synthetic identity theft.
Earlier this year, Congress passed the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act, which requires the SSA to develop a database to facilitate the verification of a consumer’s information when requested by a certified financial institution with the consumer’s consent.
Synthetic identity theft occurs when criminals combine real social security numbers with fake information, such as names and birthdates to create a fake identity. Con artists then use the fake identity to apply for credit cards or loans.
“This form of fraud is one of the fastest-growing forms of identity theft in the nation,” Attorney General Hunter said. “The new law calls for provisions that will protect citizens from these attacks and will help prevent the devastating outcome that comes with a stolen identity. My colleagues and I strongly encourage the Social Security Administration to act without delay and comply with the law.”
A recent investigation by the Aite Group, a global research and advisory firm, found in 2017 synthetic identity fraud resulted in $820 million in credit card losses, up from $701 million in 2016 and $580 million in 2015. That amount is expected to continue growing.
In the letter to Nancy Berryhill, the acting commissioner of the SSA, attorneys general write, asking the organization to evaluate and make necessary modifications to the Social Security Administration database and systems to comply promptly with this new provision of federal law.
“We urge you to prioritize the verification systems to accept electronic signatures or other verified methods so that financial institutions and others can quickly verify identity, or flag identity theft in real-time,” the letter reads. “Having a nimble system to respond to warning signs of identity theft, and to prevent theft from happening in the first place, is not only good government, it is good service to some of the most vulnerable members of the public.”
To read the letter, click here.
In addition to Attorney General Mike Hunter, attorneys general with the following states also signed the letter: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.