In this audit, we sought to assess the potential misuse of foster children's Social Security numbers.
To accomplish our objective, we identified a population of over 96,000 foster children (under age 14) in the five States with the largest number of foster children. To determine whether these children’s SSNs were potentially misused for work, we reviewed wage items in SSA’s earnings records. We also worked with a national credit reporting agency to determine whether these children’s SSNs were potentially misused for credit. In addition, we conducted online research to determine other potential misuse of their SSNs, such as obtaining a driver’s license.
Our analysis of earnings information disclosed potential misuse of foster children’s SSNs for work, credit, and other purposes. For example, we identified over 3,600 (4 percent) foster children who had wage items in SSA’s Earnings Suspense File. We believe the multiple names and employers associated with these SSNs may indicate SSN misuse.