Policy News & Tips
Social Security Number randomization
The Social Security Administration (SSA) is changing the way Social Security Numbers (SSNs) are issued. This change is referred to as "randomization." The SSA is developing this new method to help protect the integrity of the SSN. Randomization will also extend the longevity of the nine-digit SSN nationwide.
SSN randomization will affect the SSN assignment process in the following ways:
It will eliminate the geographical significance of the first three digits of the SSN, currently referred to as the area number, by no longer allocating the area numbers for assignment to individuals in specific states.
It will eliminate the significance of the highest group number and, as a result, the High Group List will be frozen in time and can be used for validation of SSNs issued prior to the randomization implementation date.
Previously unassigned area numbers will be introduced for assignment, excluding area numbers 000, 666 and 900-999.
I'm so not looking forward to the outcry.
The 666 thing will stir people up, for sure, but as I understand things it's important to change up the way that social security numbers are generated and assigned. How exactly it's done I don't know, but I know enough about predicative analytics to appreciate that a predictable system (numbers assigned by date and geography, and maybe others) can be broken. In my shop we predict future behavior with surprising accuracy using garbage for data. Cracking something fixed, like a SSN, may be rocket science, but desktop comupting and some training makes possible what recently seemed to be impossible.
Example of the problem: I have a (distressingly) large sample of recently assigned SSNs in my household. The geography is common, and the space between assignments is (again, distressingly) close. Numbers for those kids are so close together it is spooky, and it is only the last handful of positions in the numbers which vary.