Social Security numbers used to be assigned methodically, coding in geography and birthdate into the digits; however, this made SSNs far too predictable, making it easier for scammers to correctly guess the next number in the sequence. In response, the Social Security Administration started randomizing SSNs starting in 2011. As a result, it made it nearly impossible for creditors to validate socials against the applicant's information.
Today, scammers are applying for credit with "completely made up" social security numbers that have yet to be assigned. When a previously unused SSN is used on a credit application, a new credit file is created for a customer who does not exist. And when that number is legitimately assigned to newborns, they become an ID Theft victim at birth and may not find out until they turn 18 and apply for their "first" line of credit.
As always, enroll in credit and identity monitoring. Many providers now offer family plans that allow you to add your children. And of course, freeze your children's credit.
Old Social Security numbers had clues to geography and birth dates in the digits. Randomizing the numbers made it harder for scammers to guess them — but also made it harder for creditors to spot the bogus use of a Social Security number on an application. Before randomization, criminals typically purchased minors' Social Security numbers on the black market or tracked down the numbers of dead children. But now, sometimes the number "is just completely made up," Velasquez says. Fraud-detection measures used previously have become ineffective because it's no longer possible to pair a Social Security number with a location or approximate age.