Social Security Numbers Can Be Guessed From Data, Study Finds

July 6 (Bloomberg) – Social Security numbers, commonly used by criminals in identity theft, can be guessed using information found on Internet social networks such as Facebook and MySpace and other public sources, a study found.

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University used the information they gleaned to predict, in one try, the first five digits of a person’s Social Security number 44 percent of the time for 160,000 people born between 1989 and 2003. The study appears today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Annual losses from identity theft totaled $49 billion, according to a 2007 report from Javelin Strategy & Research, a Pleasanton, California, market-research company. About 8.4 million U.S. adults were victims of identity theft that year, with losses averaging $5,720 a person, according to Javelin’s figures.

Well, I’ve heard of folks who are foolish enough to post pictures of their driver’s licenses on social sites, but are they using their SSANs as codes on line?

I remember in school that everyone’s ssn had the same first 5 digits, that were born in our town. So when organizations request someone to supply only the last 4 digits, appearing safe, I know that they could figure out the first 5 if they have access to someone born my year in my town.

I’m glad, then, to be as old as I am! In my day, a person didn’t even need to have one to get a job. Most of us got them when we opened up bank accounts or went into the service!

I’ll have to check and see what my kids have on theirs.

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