What is the Social Security Number Protection Act of 2010?

This Act Makes Your Social Security Number More Privae

Social security cards
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The Social Security Number Protection Act of 2010 was signed into law by President Obama in December of 2010, the same day he signed the Red Flags Clarification Act. This law originated in the Senate where it passed unanimously after being researched by the Senate Finance Committee. The House of Representatives approved the bill by a voice vote a couple of months after it was introduced.

The SSN Protection Act of 2010 was written by the Congressional Research Service, part of the Library of Congress that does not have partisan affiliations, meaning that they are neither Democrat nor Republican.

There were no amendments to the law once it reached the House of Representatives and Senate, so the law is pretty straightforward.

What is the Social Security Number Protection Act?

In a nutshell, the law applies to Federal, state, and local agencies. It prohibits these agencies from displaying a Social Security number or part of a Social Security number on any check that is issued for payment by that agency. The law also prohibits Federal State or local agencies from entering into a contract to use prisoners in any capacity that would allow them to have access to Social Security numbers of other individuals.

Again, most consumers think this is just common sense. But state and local agencies have been known to print Social Security numbers on checks to make sure they’re being cashed by the people the agency intended to give the money to. And small municipalities are prone to use prisoners on work release programs to do heavy lifting, which often includes cases of files containing information about employees, contractors, victims assistance, ongoing cases, and virtually any other individuals the government has a need to work with.

However, the law does not clarify whether or not these covered agencies be allowed to use individuals on community service.

This law is not to be confused with the Social Security Number Protection Act of 2011 (S.1275) which was introduced to the Senate six months later. This bill focuses more on the Department of Health and Human Services, requiring the implementation of procedures that will eliminate the unnecessary collection, use, and display of Social Security account numbers on Medicare identification cards and communications from HHS to Medicare beneficiaries and providers.

A similar bill in the House of Representatives (HR 978) looks to amend Title II of the Social Security Act to eliminate the use of Social Security numbers on government-issued ID cards used with Medicaid, Medicare, and other programs.

Additionally, the SSN Protection Act of 2011 has language that prohibits the use of a Social Security card to store information electronically. Reading between the lines, we already know that Social Security cards do not currently store information electronically, they are printed on cheap paper. So the addition of this clause to S.1275 hints at the likelihood that somewhere and Washington DC conversations are being had that includes storing Social Security numbers electronically on our Social Security cards.

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