Monday, April 4, 2011

Military ID Cards Dropping Social Security Numbers

I saw this story linked on another site:
DOD to Drop Social Security Numbers from ID Cards

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 1, 2011 – Beginning June 1, Social Security numbers on military identification cards will begin to disappear, said Air Force Maj. Monica M. Matoush, a Pentagon spokeswoman.

The effort is part of a larger plan to protect service members and other DOD identification card holders from identity theft, officials said.

Criminals use Social Security numbers to steal identities, allowing them to pillage resources, establish credit or to hijack credit cards, bank accounts or debit cards.

Currently, the Social Security number is printed on the back of common access cards, and on the front of cards issued to dependents and retirees. Beginning in June, when current cards expire, they will be replaced with new cards having a DOD identification number replacing the Social Security number, officials said. The DOD identification number is a unique 10-digit number that is assigned to every person with a direct relationship with the department. The new number also will be the service member’s Geneva Convention identification number.

An 11-digit DOD benefits number also will appear on the cards of those people eligible for DOD benefits. The first nine digits are common to a sponsor, the official said, and the last two digits will identify a specific person within the sponsor’s family.

Social Security numbers embedded in the bar codes on the back of identification cards will remain there for the time being, and will be phased out beginning in 2012.

The department will replace identification cards as they expire.
Because cards will be replaced upon expiration, it will be approximately four years until all cards are replaced with the DOD ID number,” Matoush said.

The identity protection program began in 2008, when DOD started removing Social Security numbers from family member identification cards.
Maybe it is time to go back to the old fashioned Serial Number that all members of the Armed Services had in days gone by. You know, as in "name, rank, and serial number."

Given the rise in identity theft, I'm amazed that it took the military this long to make the change. Having suffered an episode of identity theft, it is a pain in the ass to have to contact all the banks and credit card companies, fill out all the affidavits, and notify all of the Big Three credit reporting agencies.

When you consider how many of today's military are or have been overseas for extended periods of time, it is not hard to imagine the criminal mischief that identity thieves can do in 12 -18 months. DOD should not take up to four years to replace all the ID cards as that will only drag out the problem.



  1. John, I want to disagree with you about the term "identity theft." No one can steal your identity. What they can do is commit bank fraud.

    The beauty (from the bank's point of view) in calling it "identity theft" is that they get to pretend that the thief stole something from you instead of from them, and now you have to do all the work to fix it.

    If they had to call it bank fraud, everyone would naturally assume that the bank would have to do all the work.

  2. @ Sean: Good point. It was the bank which took the counter-checks drawn on my brokerage account.

    The other thing would be to call it Credit Card Fraud as it was WalMart/Sam's Club and Discover Card which allowed someone to sign up for a cards in my name and then use it to buy gift cards.

  3. @John, you inadvertently stepped into one of my pet peeves. I thought that I could share it with you and then it could be your pet peeve too. :)

    Too often we allow others to define the terms of the debate. We allow others to decide what to call something without considering that the name itself defines the terms of the debate.

    If we called it bank fraud when someone pretends to be you and steals money from the bank, we would expect the bank to bear the losses and to find and prosecute the thief. If we called it credit card fraud when people lied to the credit card company and stole money from them, we would expect the credit card company to bear the losses and to find and prosecute the thief. In both cases it was a breach of security on the part of the financial institution that allowed the thief either access to your brokerage account or to be granted credit.

    Instead, everyone points the finger at you. They act like it's somehow your problem that the banks got ripped off. They refuse to return your money until you prove that you didn't get it, or they send nasty notes to the credit reporting agencies that affect your ability to live your life, counting on the fact that the consequences of this theft are more painful to you than to them, motivating you to do all the work to restore something that wasn't actually stolen from you in the first place.

    So basically instead of spending the money securing themselves against this sort of fraud, the financial institutions have spent a whole lot less money getting their marketing department to spin the whole thing as “identity theft.” Then they can sell you an entirely new product, “identity theft” protection. They’ve turned a loss into a profit, and they haven’t even done anything.

  4. Thanks for clarifying that, Sean. I had ill-formed opinions in that direction, but nothing concrete