ThinkHR Question of the Month

Allegation of Misused SSN

Question: How should we respond to an allegation that a Social Security number (SSN) belonging to someone else is being used by one of our employees?

Answer: As a first course of action, you may want to confirm that the accuracy of the Social Security number (SSN) being provided matches Form I-9 and other payroll data points. You may also contact your local Social Security Administration (SSA) office to verify that the employee’s name and birthdate match the SSN being used.

When a matter of this nature is determined by the SSA, a mismatch letter is issued to the employer advising that the employer correct their records accordingly, which often results in the employee needing to correct the matter with the SSA.

If after contacting the SSA you find the allegation to have merit, we recommend speaking with the employee to advise that there is a discrepancy with the SSN that has been provided and permit the employee to go to the SSA office to rectify the matter during the next business day. More information is available at

According to SSA you should remember the following:

• A mismatch is not a basis, in and of itself, for you to take any adverse action against an employee, such as laying off, suspending, firing or discriminating.

• Company policy should be applied consistently to all workers.

• Any employer that uses the failure of the information to match SSA records to take inappropriate adverse action against a worker may violate State or Federal law.

• The information you receive from SSNVS does not make any statement regarding a worker's immigration status.

Don Phin, Esq. is VP of Strategic Business Solutions at ThinkHR, which helps companies resolve urgent workforce issues, mitigate risk and ensure HR compliance. Phin has more than three decades of experience as an HR expert, published author and speaker, and spent 17 years in employment practices litigation. For more information, visit

Further assistance may be accessible through your legal counsel.

Need insurance for You, Your Family or Your Business?
We can match you to a qualified, local insurance expert!
Further Reading
Question: We are currently downsizing as part of our company reorganization and are considering redesignating some of our employees as independent contractors. Are there any potential ramifications for making the change? Answer: It is possible to...
We were recently asked “We are currently revamping our travel policy and are looking for feedback as well as helpful hints or examples. A few specific items are, potential client lunches/dinner pertaining to alcohol limits and pricing and hotel star...
One of the biggest challenges that a contractor faces on a job site involves the status of independent contractors. Understanding the difference between an "employee" and an "independent contractor" can help you to avoid becoming the legal employer...
Question: Do we have to pay a nonexempt (hourly) employee to complete training courses outside of his normal working hours when it is a requirement for the job? Answer: The following information is excerpted from the U.S. Electronic Code of Fe...
Let's say that you're working for a company at a retail counter with a great deal of public interaction every day. Suppose that your storefront is in the middle of an affluent neighborhood, right next to a Ruth's Chris Steakhouse and Sun Trust Ban...