How not to address child ID theft
…. Unfortunately, this idea is totally and subtly broken.
Today, the credit agencies don’t get lists from the SSA. This is a good thing. There’s no authorization under law for them to do so. The fact that they’ve created an externality on young people is no reason to revise that law. The right fix is for them to fix their systems.
The right fix is for credit bureaus to delete any credit history from before someone turns 18. Birth dates could be confirmed by a drivers license, passport or birth certificate.
Here’s how it would work:
1. Alice turns 18.
2. Alice applies for credit and discovers she has a credit history
3. Alice calls the big three credit agencies and
gets a runaroundexplains she’s just turned 18, and apparently has credit from when she was 13.
4. The credit agency asks for documents, just like they do today (see “when do I need to provide supporting docs”)
5. The credit agency looks at the birthday they’ve been provided, and substracts 18 years from the year field.
6. The credit agency removes the record from the report
It’s easy, and doesn’t require anything but a change in process by the credit bureaus. No wonder they haven’t done it, when they can convince privacy advocates that they should get lists of SSN/name/dob tuples from Uncle Sam.
The problem I see with Adam’s proposal is that it doesn’t prevent ID theft in the first place, which is what ITRC’s proposal at least attempts to do. Yes, his approach would clear Alice’s record, but there would still be all kinds of erroneous records circulating with her name and SSN attached to them in public record databases and other databases because the ID theft wasn’t prevented.
Of course, the new ID Analytics report on multiple SSNs per person and multiple persons per SSN does not inspire confidence in any approach that attempts to use SSA’s database for anything and raises questions in my mind about ITRC’s proposal.
But more importantly, perhaps: why are we still trying to make the system work with SSN? Hasn’t it become abundantly clear by now that the only thing SSN should be used for is for SSA benefits?