House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee Chairman Sam Johnson, R-Tex., and Subcommittee member Jim Renacci, R-Ohio, on May 25 introduced legislation intended to protect taxpayers from identity theft. The Social Security Must Advert Identity Loss (Social Security MAIL) Bill of 2016 (HR 5320) would require the Social Security Administration (SSA) to remove Social Security numbers (SSNs) from mailed documents when they are deemed unnecessary and to justify when it is necessary to include SSNs on mailed documents.

“Despite telling Americans countless times about the need to protect their Social Security numbers, Social Security fails to take its own advice,” Johnson said in a press release introducing the bill. “The SSA makes too many Americans vulnerable to identity loss by mailing documents that include a Social Security Number when it’s just not necessary. Americans rightly expect that Social Security isn’t putting their identities at risk when a letter is lost or stolen. My bill is a commonsense solution to a problem that simply shouldn’t exist.”

Renacci added, “As a personal victim of identity theft and after hearing many similar stories from American taxpayers, I am concerned with the fact that the Social Security Administration placed full SSNs on more than 233-million documents in 2015. In response, I am pleased to join Chairman Johnson in introducing this commonsense proposal to reduce the risk of Americans having their identity stolen by removing unnecessary SSNs from mailed documents.”

In addition to requiring the removal of unnecessary SSNs from mailings, the bill would require the SSA to provide biannual reports to Congress regarding the progress of their removal. The reports would allow lawmakers to track the SSA’s progress in removing full SSNs from mailings by requiring the SSA to disclose which mailings continue to contain a full SSN and provide either the date the number is scheduled to be removed from that mailing or justify the determination that an SSN on that mailing is necessary.

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