How To Verify a Social Security Number

Knowing how to verify a Social Security number can be useful in a wide variety of situations. From applying for a place to live, receiving a financial loan, or verifying an identity during the employment process, the SSN helps to determine that a person really is the individual being examined. The basic process of verifying a Social Security number is to register the business with the Social Security Administration. An EIN is required for this registration, so sole proprietors that have not requested this Tax ID will not be eligible for this service. Fill out the paperwork, wait 4-6 weeks for the approval to come through, and then submit the names for verification as they come in. Background checking companies may be able to provide this service for businesses or individuals with a specific need for the information. This would be a fee-based service, but enrollment in a SSA program would still be required for the business in question to verify their need to have this information.

When Can a Social Security Number Be Verified?

Social Security numbers can only be verified for specific reasons by specific businesses or individuals. These reasons are industry specific.

  • Employers may verify a SSN for wage reporting and employee eligibility.
  • Rental agencies may verify a SSN as part of a complete background check.
  • Government agencies may verify a SSN for benefits purposes, child support, legal issues, and other similar needs.
  • Lending agencies may use a Social Security number to verify an identity only.

For those who are qualified to verify this information are given three basic methods of being able to access the data that is desired. The most common method is the Social Security number verification service, which is free for online users who have registered their business. It is used to verify that names match up with Social Security records. The second option is called the Consent Based SSN Verification Service and is a fee-based service. This is used by local government agencies, private companies, and state agencies that have been enrolled into the system. It provides instant verification for large numbers of requests. The final option is the called the High Group List, but this is now considered a low-value method of verification for newly issued numbers. In the past, group numbers were allocated to states and regions in certain ways and this could help to verify that a SSN was valid. Today the process has been completely randomized, but for employment verification, it still may be a valid method to use.

Do People Need To Show Their Card?

Many employers will require that a prospective employee produce their Social Security card to proceed with a job offer. If a card cannot be produced, it is not uncommon for the applicant to be sent to the local Social Security office. With the online verification methods that are available today, however, a card does not necessarily need to be produced. The reason for SSN verification is often name spelling and eligibility. This information can be obtained by the verification service without the presence of the card. If a person's identity is in question, however, the card can provide an extra level of security as it has a signature line on the card. There are over 30 different types of SSN cards that have been issued since the program was started, so some cards may be valid even though they may not look like the modern cards. By using the verification services of the Social Security Administration, the data on the card can be validated.

What About Non-Government Affiliated Sites?

There are some websites which offer SSN verification for free and are not affiliated with the US government. Treat these sites very carefully because putting in a Social Security number on non-secure website could expose the applicant's personal information. This would put an agency and an individual at risk for litigation as the information was willingly and potentially negligently exposed, causing harm to the individual. Most free websites that are unaffiliated will not verify any SSNs that are older than June 2011. This is because the SSA transitioned to a randomized set of assigned numbers. Most free websites will even include a disclaimed that they are not suitable for employment verification. There really are no shortcuts to knowing how to verify a Social Security number. Register with the agency for the free or fee-based service, hire someone if necessary to conduct the work for you, and then you'll have the information that is necessary to meet your needs.

Posted on Apr 07, 2015


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