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E-Verify security tightened to deter ID theft

The federal government's system of verifying work eligibility has tightened security, adding the ability to "lock" suspicious Social Security numbers in an effort to combat identity theft, officials said.

The E-Verify system, run by the Department of Homeland Security, now allows officials to "lock a SSN that appears to have been misused, protecting it from further potential misuse," U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said in a news release Monday.


This enhancement provides a critical safeguard to the E-Verify system by detecting and preventing potential fraudulent use of SSNs to gain work authorization. An employer, for example, may enter information into E-Verify that appears valid – such as a matching name, date of birth, and SSN – but was in fact stolen, borrowed or purchased from another individual.


The new enhancement strengthens the E-Verify program by implementing standards that have proven effective in protecting individual identity. Just like a credit card company will lock a card that appears to have been stolen, USCIS may now lock SSNs in E-Verify that appear to have been used fraudulently. USCIS will use a combination of algorithms, detection reports and analysis to identify patterns of fraudulent SSN use and then lock the number in E-Verify.

"We are committed to strengthening E-Verify's ability to combat identity fraud," USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas said in the release.

If an employee attempts to use a locked SSN, E-Verify will generate a "Tentative Nonconfirmation" (TNC). The employee receiving the TNC will have the opportunity to contest the finding at a local Social Security Administration (SSA) field office. If an SSA field officer confirms the employee's identity correctly matches the SSN, the TNC will be converted to "Employment Authorized" status in E-Verify. Employees who successfully confirm their identities are encouraged to call USCIS so they can learn more about available resources on identity theft and fraud prevention.

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Under Arizona law, employers are required to participate in the E-Verify program.

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