In the workplace, today, many of the undocumented alien workers are using the identities of legitimate citizens. The number of illegal aliens in the United States is estimated in the millions. Many of these illegal immigrants are using stolen identities to secure work.
Washington lawmakers are currently debating methods designed to cut down on the proliferation of illegal immigration. However, the market for fraudulent documentation and compromised Social Security numbers is growing. Authorities are pointing out that some individuals may be more at risk than others. In particular, those legal residents who possess Hispanic surnames or names that sound Hispanic. Unfortunately, politicians are discovering that that the problem has no easy solutions. Additionally, local authorities cannot deport arrested illegal immigrants.
The IRS can suspect that a Social Security number is being used by more than one person. However, there are no current investigation procedures from that area of the government. They are also not required to inform anyone regarding suspected identity fraud. The scope of this situation is larger than most suspect.
Each year, approximately nine million individuals file their income taxes under the wrong Social Security Number (SSN). This happens when there is a discrepancy between the name on file with the Social Security Administration and the name on a W-2 tax form. This can occur for several reasons. It can be a typo in a company’s Human Resources Department. It can also occur when a woman fails to report a name change after marriage. But it can also happen when someone is fraudulently using another’s name to obtain a job.
This is known as a “no-match” situation by the Social Security Administration. The result is that the money is collected, but the actual wage credits will reside in limbo. This limbo is known as the Earnings Suspension File. This is in lieu of being placed on someone’s yearly Social Security statement. The requirement for employment Social Security card verification was initiated in 1984. Since then, about $500 billion have been placed in that file. This scenario can lead to a stolen identity being used for years, with no notification to the victim. However, the victim will discover the fraud when they are contacted by the IRS for payment of back taxes owed by the identity thief.
There has been some investigation regarding the use of identity theft related to employment. These investigations seem to point to three misconceptions regarding this particular crime:
• The misconception that illegal immigrants are undocumented. In actuality, fraudulent documents are being used.
• The misconception that illegal immigrants are committing minor offenses to obtain jobs. In actuality, identity theft and perjuring oneself on an I-9 form constitutes a serious crime.
• The misconception that using fraudulent documents to obtain a job is a “victimless crime”. In actuality, a victim of identity theft can suffer serious consequences as a result of this crime.
It has been shown that most cases of fraudulent SSN theft involve someone using their own name. In addition, the targets can be children, who normally don’t use their SSN numbers. When the child reaches adulthood, they can discover that their SSN has been used multiple times. This may prevent them from obtaining needed credit for student loans or applying for jobs. The E-Verify program is currently mandated in nine U.S. states. This program is able to detect and therefore possibly halt virtually 100% of identity theft involving children.
Employers have recently become more diligent in their employee screenings. This has curtailed the use of bogus names and Social Security numbers. However, this has led to an increase in the demand for legitimate identities which are capable of passing database verifications. It may require more government intervention in order to address the problem efficiently. This may mean that identity theft will be charged as a federal crime. Additionally, stricter sentences can be imposed with more expedient deportation proceedings. But at this point, federal authorities have claimed that a lack of manpower is preventing sufficient prosecution.