Two Women, Same Name, Same Date of Birth, Same Social Security Number

If you find that someone else is using your Social Security Number, the first thing you think of is identity theft. However, that’s not always true. Ask two different women in Florida. Joanna Rivera and Joannie Rivera only recently discovered the problem, according to a report this week, but in the meantime it’s caused no end of trouble for them. Credit applications have been denied; tax returns have been rejected.

1990, two Florida hospitals created the same record for two babies with similar first names, the same last name and the same date of birth, and the administration gave them both the same Social Security number.

It’s not as uncommon as you might think. In fact, some 40 million SSNs are associated with multiple people, according to a 2010 study by ID Analytics at http://goo.gl/SRE10U. The study claims:

  • 6.1 percent of Americans have at least two SSNs associated with their name. More than 100,000 Americans have five or more SSNs associated with their name.
  • Some SSNs are very popular – More than 15 percent of SSNs are associated with two or more people. More than 140,000 SSNs are associated with five or more people. Significantly, more than 27,000 SSNs are associated with 10 or more people.

11 Comments

And whose to say that the official records of census are not flawed as well. That is what makes Genealogy a unique challenge.

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    In the late 1930’s and early 1940’s a wallet / purse manufacturer put a sample of a social security card in each of their products along with the customary family photo. 1000’s upon 1000’s of people thought that was their number. It took forever to straighten out that mess in the pre computer era.

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I once got an audit letter from the IRS claiming I hadn’t reported the interest from my savings account, despite the fact that all the details were right there on my tax return. It turned out that the bank had entered the wrong SSN into their computers when they set up the account, and the computer then transferred that wrong SSN to the 1099 they sent to the IRS to report the interest payment. Fortunately, this was a relatively easy mistake to get corrected back then, when human beings at the IRS hadn’t yet become entirely dependent upon computers to do all their thinking. I don’t know whether it would be quite so simple today.

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One day I was searching (Ancestry.com) following a shaking leaf on my wife. I found her death record! She was in the next room doing well. Another woman same first and last name, born the same day in 1949. One in Michigan, one in Brooklyn (my wife). Seemed like strange coincidence.

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It happens in the UK too with NI numbers. My boyfriend had his ever since he came here from Eire and about 10 years ago he discovered that a man in Wales had the same one! He eventually had to be issued another one, after .months of disruption.

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Depending on the meaning of “associated,” one possibility may be wives receiving benefits under their husbands’ SS#. For example. my Medicare card bears my husband’s number. This might account for millions of the dual numbers.

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If you read the linked-to article, you’ll find that it’s not the SSA assigning duplicate or multiple numbers, it’s the commercial services (like insurance companies, etc.) who enter data into their databases wrong.

Although, I once dated a woman who filed her taxes every single year but used her SSN with the last digit decremented by 1. Apparently, something in her past (which I was not privy to) caused her to hide from the government this way. Each year she would get a letter after filing taxes that she may have entered the wrong SSN on her tax form. She ignored the letters. I’m sure that that is much harder to do in this day and age.

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When I was a baby, my Social Security card was missing the first letter of my first name. Rather than contact anyone, my mother just wrote the letter on the card. I used the number on that card my whole life. I got some mail from the student loan people saying that the SSN I gave them didn’t match my name, but I called and told them it was correct.

Years later, I couldn’t find my SS card and ordered a replacement. They sent me one with a SSN I had never seen before. After inquiring, it turned out that the misspelling on my original card made it look like I had never been assigned a SSN. When my father passed away and my mother filed for benefits on my behalf, a totally new number was assigned. After I found it, everything was merged under the number I had used, but it was over 20 years that I had 2 numbers.

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I thought it was unusual for me and another with same name as me had SSN one number different. We live in same town. But now I am amazed!!!!

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Actually, since the amount of your monthly security benefit in retirement is determined by your lifetime earnings records, everyone should review their social security records once a year to make sure they match up with the W-2 Wage Statement(s) they got from their employer(s) and follow up immediately if the numbers don’t add up.

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    That is so true. Illegal immigrants and others are also buying SSN’s so they can work legal.
    That is why some people come up with 5/6 names on their number and they have to prove what monies they put in to receive a check. Some folks have had to wait years to receive their check after retiring.

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