• New E-Verify Security Enhancement Deters Fraudulent Use of SSNs
  • November 28, 2013
  • Law Firm: Fragomen Del Rey Bernsen Loewy LLP - New York Office
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced an enhancement to the E-Verify program that is intended to combat identity fraud by detecting and preventing potential fraudulent use of Social Security numbers (SSNs) to gain work authorization. Specifically, this new enhancement enables USCIS to lock an SSN that appears to have been stolen, protecting it from further misuse in E-Verify. If an employee attempts to use a locked SSN, E-Verify will issue a Tentative Nonconfirmation (TNC), which the employee can contest at a local Social Security Administration (SSA) office. If the SSA field officer confirms the employee's identity matches the SSN, the TNC will be converted to "Employment Authorized" status in E-Verify.

    The Social Security locking mechanism is the latest in a series of changes or enhancements to E-Verify to curb identity fraud in response to a December, 2009 independent audit report, which revealed that over 50% of unauthorized workers were confirmed as work-authorized in E-Verify. Other improvements included matching photographs on certain federal documents with photographs in government databases, incorporating driver's license information from a handful of participating state departments of motor vehicles, and allowing employees to check their own work authorization before applying for employment.

    E-Verify's susceptibility to identity fraud along with the anti-discrimination provisions under federal immigration law often put employers in a difficult position of not being able to ascertain identity lest they be charged with immigration-related employment discrimination. Employers are advised to follow strictly the E-Verify guidelines as provided in USCIS manuals and memorandum of understanding with the employers. Should the employer encounter situations where identity fraud is suspected notwithstanding E-Verify's confirmation, please consult immigration counsel regarding appropriate next steps.