Social security numbers began being assigned in 1936 to track workers’ earnings so that proper benefits could be paid. These 9 digit numbers were created from a specific formula. This year, that formula is changing.
Social security numbers have always been comprised of 3 number sections; the 3 digit area number, followed by the 2 digit group number, and then a 4 digit serial number. The area number reflects the state in which the card was issued.
This sequence creation has begun to pose some problems.
1: Because the first 3 numbers indicate the state the number was issued (look at this chart to see the numbers by state), this limits the numbers of each state. Highly populated states may eventually run out of 9 digit numbers.
2: The SSN has been widely used for identification purposes for schools, businesses, etc. The current design allows identity thieves more of an opportunity to figure out a person’s number, and use it for fraudulent activities.
As a result, the Social Security Administration has decided to change the way SSN’s are assigned.
As of June 25, 2011, Social Security Numbers will be randomized.
The key differences will be;
The geographical significance of the first 3 numbers will be eliminated. The ‘area numbers’ will no longer be allocated from a specific state. This will extend the longevity of the 9 digit number system.
Previously unassigned area numbers will be introduced. Prior to June 25, 2011, social security numbers would have never included an area number above 772. Now the Social Security Administration allows for area numbers all the way into the 800’s. However, there are some area numbers that will never be allocated; 000, 666, and 900-999.
Never fear! You are not going to be reassigned a social security number or anything like that, this is simply for the people who receive Social Security numbers after June 25, 2011. AND the 9 digit design will remain in place.
Always remember: your social security number is a goldmine for identity thieves. Do not divulge your social security number unless absolutely necessary, and never carry your card in your wallet.