'Hello, SSA, it's me'

'Hello, SSA, it's me'

The Social Security Administration made 'a huge leap' in efficiency by letting employers file W-2 wage reports online at www.ssa.gov/employer, and now the agency is testing voiceprint authentication of filers by telephone, SSA project manager Chuck Liptz said today.

Until now, SSA has authorized each electronic filer by requiring a supervisor's approval and sending a personal identification number by postal or e-mail. In the voiceprint test, which began Jan. 6, 'We'll see if employers think it's an easier way to do business,' Liptz said. 'We don't want to implement technology without including the people it's going to affect.' The test will run for about three months, he said.

SSA received about 100 million wage reports from employers for tax year 2001.

So far, a couple of dozen employers filing their 2002 W-2s have volunteered to record their voiceprints reading employer ID number and other required information, which they later repeat over the phone to be authenticated during each Web filing session. The combination of PIN and voiceprint is legally binding, Liptz said, and the voiceprint file size is 'just a few bytes.' A survey at the end of the voiceprinting call has returned mostly favorable results, he said.

Authentify Inc. of Chicago helped SSA set up the biometric authentication test. Authentify's announcement said the 'no training, no software, no hardware' approach will cut costs and could become a model for other government online authentication projects.

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