With the recent Equifax hacking scandal my office has become a hotbed of meetings about protecting confidential information. How, What, When, Where and Why this information needs to be protected etc,etc,etc.
I am not disagreeing that this is important, but the whole situation boils down to the fact that Social Security Numbers (SSN) are involved. The SSN is the biggest form of identification authentication used in the US. The number is associated with one person their entire lives, from birth to death. With one number you can find out almost anything about anyone. That information can then be used for good or bad.
The social security number was started in 1935 during the depression. It was intended for tax purposes and a way to track people who collected benefits in the new Social Security program. Prior to that the only entities that required a tax ID were businesses. They paid taxes based on size and how much money they made. Over forms of ID numbers were used if you worked for the government depending on what department you worked for such as the Department of Defense if you were in the military.
The SSN is set up in a AAA-GG-SSSS format. The first three numbers are the state in which you live. The second number represents the group which is a region in that state. The last numbers are random numbers with in that group. So for example if you live on the east coast your first three numbers will be lower than if you obtained your number on the west coast. Even if you move by looking at your SSN, the government can track where your SSN originated from and would be able to tell if it is fake or real based on the above criteria.