Bill Seeks to Limit Use of Social Security Numbers

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The House of Representatives is considering another bill that would restrict the sale and public display of Social Security numbers.

H.R. 2036 seeks to restrict the dissemination of Social Security numbers by credit reporting agencies. The bill, sponsored by Rep. E. Clay Shaw Jr., R-FL, was introduced last month.

The legislation would authorize the U.S. attorney general to issue regulations to restrict the sale, purchase and display of Social Security numbers; to limit dissemination of Social Security numbers by credit reporting agencies; and to make it more difficult for businesses to deny services if a customer refuses to provide a Social Security number. However, the law would not affect the use of Social Security numbers to enforce child-support payments.

A nearly identical bill was introduced in the Senate in May.

Shaw said he sponsored the bill because identity fraud against U.S. consumers has increased significantly in recent years.

"Identity theft is considered the fastest-growing financial crime in the country, affecting an estimated 500,000 to 700,000 people annually," Shaw said.

Last year Shaw introduced H.R. 4857, the Social Security Number Privacy and Identity Theft Prevention Act of 2000. The Ways and Means Committee approved the bill at the end of last year, but the full House did not consider it before the end of the session.

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