(CNSNews.com) – A report from the Social Security Administration Inspector General (IG) found 4,317 instances where a non-citizen was able to obtain two Social Security numbers, including 542 instances that happened since 2001.
“We identified 4,317 instances where the Numident record of 2 SSNs assigned to noncitizens contained matching first, middle, and last names; dates and places of birth; gender; and fathers’ and mothers’ names,” the IG reported on Dec. 10, 2012.
Numident – which stands for Numerical Identification System – is the master file of applications for social security numbers. The IG found that SSA had issued multiple numbers to 4,317 non-citizens from 1981-2011.
The IG found that the errors occurred because SSA did not cross-check the names of the people applying for an additional Social Security number.
“In each case, SSA had not cross-referred the records, indicating that SSA either was not aware it assigned two SSNs to the same noncitizen or it believed the number-holders were not actually the same person.”
The review was initiated after a non-citizen was convicted of defrauding the government out of $55,000 in Social Security and federal housing payments by using two Social Security numbers, the report said. While no further fraud was found, the IG acknowledged that the potential for fraud still existed.
“We did not identify any instances where SSA issued benefit payments under both SSNs [social security numbers]. However, we identified other activity on these records that indicated potential abuse or fraud.”
The IG found 514 cases where a non-citizen had reported work under both numbers, making them appear eligible to receive double the federal benefits. In 80 of those cases, at least 10 years of earnings had been reported under both numbers.
Surprisingly, most multiples were issued by the same office, meaning that a non-citizen obtained a Social Security number from a Social Security office and then returned to that same office and obtained a second number, despite using duplicate information.
A total of 3,320 multiples were given by the same office, with nearly half of those being issued within a week. The report said 1,252 multiples were issued by the same office within a week’s time – 251 multiples were issued by the same office in the same day - and 216 of those same office, same day multiples were issued prior to 2000.
In all, the IG found that SSA has gotten much better since 2001 at preventing the issuance of multiple Social Security numbers to non-citizens but was not successful at preventing it entirely.
“SSA controls designed to prevent issuance of multiple SSNs to noncitizens have been effective at preventing these occurrences, and the number of such cases has declined significantly over the past 30 years. However, SSA’s records indicated that, on occasion, the controls did not prevent the unauthorized issuance of multiple SSNs to noncitizens,” the report concluded.“Noncitizens who obtain multiple SSNs have used, or could use, the SSNs to defraud Federal benefit programs or to conceal work activity.”