LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced that she has joined with 42 other states and the National Association of Attorneys General to send a letter to the Social Security Administration asking the acting commissioner to prioritize the implementation of a congressionally approved new database system that will help combat synthetic identity theft.
“As the enforcer of Arkansas’s privacy laws, every day I see the damage done to Arkansans who have been the victims of identity theft,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I am pleased to join with my colleagues from across the country urging the Social Security Administration to accelerate the creation of a database that will be used by financial institutions to verify the consumer’s information and prevent identity theft. Identity theft is a scary reality for all of us, but this is a simple solution to close a loophole for Americans.”
“We ask you to evaluate and make necessary modifications to the Social Security Administration database and systems to comply promptly with this new provision of federal law. As enforcers of the data break laws in our jurisdictions, we see the impact that exposure of Social Security numbers can have. Our residents lose thousands of dollars a year and suffer from ruined credit scores, as well as a general sense of anxiety regarding their identities,” the attorneys general wrote in the letter.
Earlier this year, Congress passed a law directing the Social Security Administration to develop a revamped database that will verify consumer information at the time it is requested, with consumer consent. The improved database will help address “synthetic identity theft,” in which identity thieves use real Social Security numbers, along with fictitious names and birthdates, to manufacture identities. As the current system does not allow financial institutions to check identity on a real-time basis, the new database system would protect vulnerable consumers by preventing identity theft earlier.