As more and more politicians bloviate about how one can check one’s credit card at any neighborhood store and yet the Social Security Administration is unable to keep track of legitimate cards or that the job of checking social security numbers should be turned over to a “VISA” or “MASTERCARD” company who “gets it right,” is to stupidly ignore the obvious.

The credit card issuers and processors are not encumbered with an archaic numbering scheme that does not even contain a check-digit to prevent digit transposition data entry errors. Thus there can be no comparison between the 9-digit SSN (Social Security Number) and a 16-digit credit card number.

With the SSN, the first three digits of a social security number represent the state that the person was living in at the time the number was assigned (with the exception of the Rail-road Retirement Agency which issued numbers in the 700-729 range), the following two numbers represent an alternating odd-even group number scheme and the last four digits are a sequentially-issued serial number.

While credit card issuers use various number assignment methods, the following provides a general idea of what information is coded into the number.

The first digit in a credit-card number signifies the system (3 -travel/ entertainment cards like American Express and Diners Club; 4 – Visa; 5 – MasterCard; 6 - Discover Card) American Express card numbers start with 37 and Carte Blanche and Diners Club with 38.

With American Express: Digits three and four are type and currency; digits five through eleven are the account number; digits twelve through fourteen are the card number within the account and digit fifteen is a check digit.

With Visa: Digits two through six are the bank number; digits seven through twelve or seven through fifteen are the account number; and digit thirteen or sixteen is a check digit. With MasterCard: Digits two and three, two through four, two through five or two through six are the bank number (depending on whether digit two is a 1, 2, 3 or other). The digits after the bank number up through digit fifteen are the account number, and digit sixteen is a check digit.

In any event, those that originate, process or service mortgage loans should anticipate an expansion of the social security number in the near future. ICC suggests that, keeping with a sixteen digit structure to allow existing infra-structure (computers, terminals, etc.) to be used for authentication and verification (two different processes), that the new number incorporate the old number in some manner, that a check digit be placed at the end of the number string; and that the remaining six digits be used to indicate the reauthorization/verification agency (four digits), type of confirming documents presented (one digit) and citizenship status (visa, legal alien, citizen, etc.).

When this sixteen-digit number is incorporated into a tamperproof card with an expiration date, an issuer number and a security number (along with an optional pin number), the process is complete.

While there are any number of credit card number generators available on the internet designed for fraud, the constant checking of this number will assist in building a pattern of usage that will further indicate fraudulent activity.

Civil libertarians are sure to complain about a “national identity” card, but that is precisely where we are heading with interlinked state driver’s licenses that must conform to a national standard and whose data will be freely shared among the states and law enforcement agencies.

If further safeguards are required, it is a simple matter to exclude this number from being used by the credit repositories and as a general identification number for financial transactions. While the repositories are going to scream bloody murder over the exclusion of this unique identifier, perhaps they will become smart enough to derive their own unique numbering scheme from various sub-identifiers similar to the way magazine subscriptions and mail-order customers were originally identified based on the zipcode, the first character and subsequent consonants of the last name, a portion of the street address and a check-digit to prevent data-entry errors.

And not let us forget the venerable IRS, who actually knows how many bogus cards are in use (due to duplicate filings) and chooses to ignore the political ramifications of the immigration issue while they continue to pursue their primary goal: collecting revenue from taxable sources. Similarly, the Social Security Administration and State Employment agencies have much the same information, including the identification of those employers who hire illegals. Again, they choose to do nothing. Since the IRS database systems are being re-designed as we speak, they can incorporate any new numbering scheme without a major problem.

What can YOU do?

Do not listen to the bloviators when they explain they need millions and millions of dollars to develop a numbering scheme and specialized software. The development and programming costs are moderate compared to the redundant hardware and ongoing operational costs. Demand progress. Without a numbering scheme and biometrics, identification of individuals will remain problematical. Considering that DNA typing raises many legal and ethical issues, the above system is both practical and functional.

Demand results and consider the answers when VOTING.

A reminder from OneCitizenSpeaking.com: a large improvement can result from a small change…


Research Source: April 2006 Newsletter contained on www.freeiccnewsletters.com. Courtesy of Interactive Computer Corporation a national document preparation service for mortgage documents.

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