USCIS Introduces Social Security Number Locking Feature for E-Verify

On November 18, 2013 Alejandro Mayorkas, Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), announced an enhancement to the E-Verify program that will help combat identity fraud. The enhancement will identify and deter fraudulent use of Social Security numbers (SSNs) for employment eligibility verification. As stated in the press release, “This enhancement provides a critical safeguard to the E-Verify system by detecting and preventing potential fraudulent use of SSNs to gain work authorization.” Employers may be entering information into E-Verify that appears valid, such as a matching date of birth, name and SSN, but was in fact stolen, borrowed or purchased from another individual. This new safeguard enables USCIS to lock a SSN that appears to have been misused by an individual, protecting it from further potential misuse in E-Verify.

Furthermore, the enhancement strengthens the E-Verify program by implementing standards that have been proven effective in protecting individual identity, as exemplified by credit card companies locking credit cards that appear to have been stolen. USCIS now has the ability to lock SSNs entered into the E-Verify system that appear to have been used fraudulently by using a combination of algorithms, detection reports and analysis to identify patterns of fraudulent SSN use and proceed to lock the number in E-Verify.

What happens when a Social Security Number is locked?

If an employee attempts to use a locked SSN, E-Verify will generate a “Tentative Nonconfirmation” (TNC) and the employee receiving the TNC will have the opportunity to contest the finding at a local Social Security Administration (SSA) field office. If the employee contests the TNC and the SSA field office confirms the employee’s identity correctly matches the SSN, the TNC result will automatically be updated to an “Employment Authorized” status in E-Verify.

Director Mayorkas was quoted saying, “We are committed to strengthening E-Verify’s ability to combat identity fraud” and continued with saying “This new enhancement provides yet another significant safeguard for E-Verify users and could assist employees who have had their Social Security numbers stolen or compromised.”