Identity Theft: New Technologies Can End the Use of Social Security Numbers as Universal Identifiers—Identity Theft Expert and Speaker on Personal Security

(BOSTON, Mass. – July 5, 2007 – A report by the General Accounting Office recently indicated that Social Security numbers (SSNs) remain available to potential theft. Robert Siciliano, a widely televised and quoted personal security and identity theft expert, called the situation inexcusable and pointed to examples of new technologies that can end the use of SSNs as universal identifiers.

“Citizens need both hands to count how many times these past few years we’ve heard that our confidential, sensitive information is available for thieves’ taking,” said Siciliano. “There is absolutely no excuse for the Social Security number to remain as the universal identifier.”

CEO of and a member of the Bank Fraud & IT Security Report’s editorial board, Siciliano leads Fortune 500 companies and their clients in workshops that explore consumer education solutions for security issues. A longtime identity theft speaker and author of “The Safety Minute: 01,” he has discussed data security and consumer protection on CNBC, on NBC’s “Today Show,” FOX News, and elsewhere.

On June 21, an Associated Press article that ran in The Washington Post and other news outlets gave various elected officials’ reactions to a recently released report from the General Accounting Office. The GAO’s report said SSNs remain, on a wide scale, susceptible to theft despite government’s attempts to secure them. According to the article, U.S. Senators called to disallow state and local record keepers from posting even partial SSNs online. The same day of the GAO report’s release, Congress held a hearing on protecting the privacy of SSNs.

“Discussions that center on better security for Social Security numbers are misguided,” said Siciliano. “The Social Security number is the key to the kingdom, and while government and industry must do better to protect Social Security numbers wherever they’re viewable, only new forms of identification less usable by thieves will solve the problem.”

At the Congressional hearing, Ana I. Anton, an advisor to the Department of Homeland Security’s Data Privacy and Integrity Advisory Committee and a member of the U.S. Public Policy Committee of the Association for Computing Machinery, proposed policies that would combine business procedures and information technology to help protect SSNs and reduce the nation’s reliance on them for personal identification. She urged banks, credit agencies, and government agencies to require strong proof of identity, such as passports, military IDs, or licenses with a photograph to verify personal identity.

“Technology has made it more feasible than ever before to replace Social Security numbers with alternative identifiers in almost every circumstance,” said Siciliano.

Some technologies include biometrics. Another, MagnePrints, recognizes, at the point of manufacture, DNA in identification cards’ and credit cards’ magnetic strips, eliminating the viability of counterfeit cards.

“The transition to new, more secure technologies will of course require much needed investments,” said Siciliano. “Politicians owe it to their constituencies to muster the political will to spend that money.”

Readers may view a YouTube video below of Siciliano using the breach of customer data at an exclusive tropical resort as context to discuss the dangers of Social Security numbers as all-purpose identifiers. To learn more about identity theft, readers may click here to view video of Siciliano at VideoJug.


Identity theft affects us all. Robert Siciliano, CEO of and member of the Bank Fraud & IT Security Report’s editorial board, makes it his mission to provide consumer education solutions on identity theft to Fortune 500 companies and their clients.

A leader of personal safety and security seminars nationwide, Siciliano has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, “FOX News,” NBC’s “Today Show,” “The Suze Orman Show,” “The Montel Williams Show,” “Maury Povich,” “Sally Jesse Raphael,” “The Howard Stern Show,” and “Inside Edition.” The Privacy Learning Institute features him on its Website. Numerous magazines, print news outlets, and wire services have turned to him, as well, for expert commentary on personal security and identity theft. These include Entrepreneur, Woman’s Day, Mademoiselle, Good Housekeeping, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Times, The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, United Press International, Reuters, and others.

Visit Siciliano’s Web site,; blog,; and YouTube page,

The media are encouraged to get in touch with Siciliano directly:

Robert Siciliano
Personal Security Expert
CEO of
PHONE: 888-SICILIANO (742-4542)
FAX: 877-2-FAX-NOW (232-9669)

The media may also contact:

Brent W. Skinner
President & CEO of STETrevisions
PHONE: 617-875-4859
FAX: 866-663-6557