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Department to Phase Out Full Social Security Numbers on IDs

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 3, 2008 – As a means of combating identity theft, the Defense Department will issue identification cards without full Social Security numbers printed onto them, a senior official said here today.

The Defense Department cares about protecting personal information as well as increasing database security, Mary Dixon, director of the Defense Manpower Data Center based in Arlington, Va., told Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service reporters.

Identity theft is a very real problem today, Dixon explained. Criminals who pilfer SSN-bearing identity cards can virtually assume someone’s identity through a few computer keystrokes and clicks of a mouse, she said.

TriCare, the military services’ health maintenance organization, already has removed Social Security numbers from its members’ identification cards, Dixon said.

Plans are to remove the Social Security numbers from identification cards issued to military family members by the end of this year, Dixon said, noting that those cards still would display the sponsors’ SSN, for now. Between 2009 and 2010, all department-issued identification cards will feature only the last four digits of a holder’s Social Security number, she said.

About 3.4 million people now have department-issued common access cards, Dixon said. Around two-thirds of those card holders are military members, and some civilians who deploy overseas, who have full Social Security numbers printed onto the back of their CACs.

“You might lose that card,” Dixon pointed out, noting that family members, including children, could misplace their identification cards, too.

Modern information technology precludes the need to have full social security numbers printed onto employee and family member ID cards, Dixon said.

“Today, all of our (computer) systems can ‘talk’ to each other, so we don’t necessarily need to know all of that information printed on your card,” she said.

New identification cards will be issued as they reach their expiration dates, Dixon said.

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