SSA, Treasury to build system to verify SSNs

The Treasury Department and Social Security Administration have agreed to develop a system to let financial institutions electronically verify would-be customers' Social Security numbers.

Banks will be able to use a secure Web site to determine if a Social Security number provided by a person opening an account is legitimate, SSA spokesman Mark Lassiter said. Financial institutions will conduct the verifications only if customers agree to them, he said.

The USA Patriot Act, passed last fall, requires Treasury to implement regulations to verify the identification of new account holders. Some of the hijackers involved in the Sept. 11 attacks used phony Social Security numbers to set up accounts and transfer large sums of money.

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