Thursday, August 9, 2007

A progressive examination of the link between immigration and identity theft

While some question whether new social security number verification requirements for employers will deter immigration and halt related cases of identity theft, it's interesting to look at an alternative legal perspective:

Undocumented people will have less motivation to use others' social security numbers if government, financial institutions, and other entities will accept tax identification numbers to identify people (so long as tax identification numbers are freely and unconditionally made available to all by the Internal Revenue Service) for paying taxes, opening bank accounts, obtaining credit, obtaining drivers' licenses, and earning payroll funds, rather than using social security numbers for identity. Unfortunately, every year, social security numbers have been used more often as de facto national identification cards.

Consequently, people sometimes come to us having been criminally charged with using false social security numbers and with related problems. Unfortunately, a conviction for using a false social security number or for purloining others' identity can lead to
negative consequences with the immigration authorities.

Changing the way social security numbers are used would seem to be a positive move not only because it raises the possibility of incorporating undocumented workers into the economic system through a degree of legal recognition, but for reducing instances of identity theft and guarding the confidentiality of social security numbers and privacy in general.

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