Spotting Fake SS Cards

Okay, I know we can't be expected to be experts on detecting fake social security cards when they are presented to us, but are there any sources out there that can provide us with tips on how to spot them? I have been coming across more cards that appear to be fake but they don't appear fake enough to tell the person that I can't except it. How much questioning, if any, can we do when we are presented with a card that appears to be fake? What do you guys do when you come across this? Thanks.


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  • You should be careful about becoming more expert so that you can be more vigilant. The more of that that you do the more that you could be accused of discrimination. The HR responsibility is good faith evaluation. We stick with that and don't go beyond instructions that might be available in INS publications. Of course, our environment is not one where the undocumented would normally show up to find a job.
  • [font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON 02-27-03 AT 03:33PM (CST)[/font][p]The INS has a expanded instruction booklet with photos of documents with tips of things to look for. The few things I use to look for was if the number or name was crooked or off-center, and I did get one that had the wrong font type. All fakes. I seen a lot of fake alien reg cards too, they were being sold out of the back of a local bakery.

    While the INS requires a good faith effort for documenting an I-9, eventually then you get that letter from SS saying you have erroneous #'s you do have to deal with it eventually.
  • [font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON 02-27-03 AT 03:41PM (CST)[/font][p]Thanks, Gillian and Terry. That's exactly why I posted the question. I know I don't want to pass that line where it can become discrimating, but at the same time if I can legally not hire someone based on my knowledge of false documents presented to me then it could save us the trouble of having to let them go later on. SSA doesn't allow you to verify the numbers until after the person has been hired, and even then it should be done on every person that is hired. I just don't have that kind of time. It always seems uncomfortable when presented with a seemingly false document because what if I'm wrong? That's why I was wondering if there was anything out there from INS or SSA that I could turn to. Thanks again.
  • Having "hired" someone does not mean they have actually started work yet, you need only have made an offer of employment and have it accepted. SS use to have a pilot program where you had software or could do it on line. Here is the link to their general verification page. [url][/url]
  • You can check up to 5 social security numbers by calling (800) 772-1213 - Have your ein# ready - you will need name as it appears on card and date of birth.
  • I can tell you for certain that none of us should ever accept one of those metallic, multicolored (popular) renditions of a SS card, nor a copy of a card, nor a verbalized number. I agree with Gillian (for the third time this year already).
  • 3 times in 3 months, wow that's pretty good. Don't forget about no laminated cards either. I wanted to ask the question because I've been coming across about 1 fake one a week. And those are the ones that are pretty obvious to me. Thanks for everyone's input.
  • When going through the process of dealing with the "no match" letters -- name didn't match social security number, we learned a couple of things.
    -- when checking the SS card, the signature line is actually a microscopic line of lettering that spells out Social Security Administration over and over. If you look at it with one those magnifying gizmos that the Printing folks use, you can see. It's on the "newer" cards....not the older ones. A fake card is just a line.
    -- the IRS has issued IRS tax ID #’s to individuals who cannot get social security number. These numbers, which begin with 8 or 9, are not valid SSN’s and cannot be used for social security number purposes. This should be a red flag to you that the person you are considering for employment may not be legally authorized to work in the U.S.

    We also put into place the following procedure to verify that the social security number does match the name at the time that we hire employees:

    To do that we need to do two things: verify the social security numbers and the names through the SSA, and ensure that the names that you put into the Lawson system (HRIS) exactly match the name on the employees’ social security card.

    Verification of Social Security Numbers (SSN) and Names
    To verify the SSN and names you need the following information: employer tax ID number, which is ##-########; the SSN; the name exactly as it appears on the social security card; the employee’s date of birth; and the gender of the employee. As is evident, you will need to see the employee’s social security card even if the employee does not offer the social security card as a document for I-9 authorization to work in the U.S. This is not an INS issue; it is a SSA issue.

    You will verify the SSN and names during the orientation process. You have to wait until that time because this would be the earliest time that you will be able to see the employee’s date of birth. You verify the information by calling your local SSA office.

    Hope this gives you some additional information about the cards

  • >-- the IRS has issued IRS tax ID #’s to individuals who cannot get
    >social security number.

    Boy! Now there's a piece of congressional genius! And I guess if they can't drive, they get a pilot's license.
  • We check SS information on every employee once they have been offered and have accepted the position. We either call our local Social Security office or we fax the information to them for verification purposes. If I fax the information, I receive the confirmation back within 24 hours about 99% of the time.

    On the newer cards, you can run your fingernail across the pillars pictured on the right and left sides of the card and if they are raised, the card is more likely to be real.

    Another thing to watch for, which I caught completely by chance on one employee, is to check the issue date on the employee's ID card. We had an employee present us with an ID card that was supposedly issued by the DMV on a Sunday! I don't know of any DMVs that are open on Sundays. Needless to say, we did not continue to employ this person.

  • Terry, you mentioned an instruction booklet from SSA. Can you tell me where I can find it? I tried the web site this morning without luck. I see fake ones all the time, and I'd like to get a copy of that booklet.
  • The information would be from the INS not SS. Office of Business Liaison for Department of Justice should be able to direct you. Their phone number is 800-357-2099. Link for their web page is [url][/url]

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