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Starting in January, your ability to access personal Social Security earnings and benefits via online access has been handed over to Experian - the same company that keeps your credit information completely screwed up accurate.

Experian's huge store of frequently inacurate records now includes personal and confidential Social Security Administration information they didn't have on file already, but only so they can verify your identity. What could possibly go wrong ...?

Anyone else experienced this?

A friend just tried to access his account information online via the Social Security Adminstration's web portal. He was told his online account had been cancelled and that he would have to create a new account as of January 1st. Suddenly, he was redirected to an Experian web site that started asking obscure personal "security questions" that proved impossible to answer and he was locked out of his account. (Do you remember all the license tags for any cars that could have been in your name for the last 10 years?)

After several hours of waiting on hold ('yes, we're getting a lot of calls from people having problems with this...') so he could start over, it appears that inaccurate information may have been entered and there's no way to fix it except by visiting a SS field office in person. I'm guessing this sounds familiar to ANYONE who's ever had to deal with Experian with an error on their credit report in the past.

What has happened is this: in response to concerns about the security of the massive amounts of sensitive data held by the Social Security Administration, someone thought it would be a good idea to award the contract to Experian. Experian seems to have merged with some other world-wide agencies under the banner of "A Single Version of the Truth" (not kidding) and are now offering their expertise in identity verification.

On the surface, this seems to be a violation of our expectation of privacy with respect to the massive volume of data that the Social Security Administration collects on all individual's employment history. Secondly: Experian may now have the ability to correlate and data mine this secure information combined with all the other records they collect about individuals - and we have no control over how this information will be used or verification of it's accuracy.

Finally: Experian has always had a terrible record for accuracy of their records. They have a poor documented record with the public (when you can find them - they obviously scrub well - not much on Google) and that aligns with my direct personal experience over the years.  One incident after some strange credit events took me 6 weeks and a 25 page letter documenting errors that needed to be corrected. One bank supervisor during my ordeal candidly told me Experian always had the most errors, but they were the least expensive and that's why they were used so often. When you realize that errors on your credit report only allow providers to charge more fees - you can see why there's not much incentive for accuracy ... but that's another issue.

I'm wondering if anyone else is bothered by this massive hand-over of personal data to a company that, frankly, I don't trust to respect my privacy and not misuse the information. Granted, this doesn't affect operation of Social Security or payments - but with fewer field offices, this could affect many people's access to their information.

6:38 AM PT: Update: Here's another scary concern from comments (DRo):

"Offers two report types, full and partial, for clients with and without a Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) permissible purpose"
... so further into private, non-regulated data?

Also: I wonder if this "data exchange" applied to only the 50 Million active SS benefit recipients ... or did the get access to ALL SS records? And I'll bet Experian did it for "free" (saved taxpayer $s!) for access to data that will be worth a goldmine to them!

3:07 PM PT: In response to a downstream "pie fight", I stand by my assumption that Experian explicitly states they have access to Social Security data:

"...people age 18 and older must be able to provide information about themselves that matches information already on file with Social Security. Then, Social Security uses Precise IDSM, Experian’s fraud detection and prevention platform, to securely authenticate and further verify the person’s identity."
The statement from Experian says they use "information already on file with Social Security". They then state that Social Security uses "Precise IDSM (tm, I assume), Experian's fraud detection and prevention platform" to further verify the person's identity.

We can assume that either SSA hands off to Experian for the ID verification, or that Experian is within SSA system to verify.  Since the questions I've seen used so far are from the Experian Credit Reporting system only - I have to assume this happens on Experian secure servers.

If Experian explicitly states they use "information already on file with Social Security", then they must have that information on file and , by implication, on their servers.  If they do not possess the individual information directly, then they are able to do some sort of secure, real-time SQL query - which also implies a level of access I am NOT comfortable giving to a company with the track record of Experian.

To Conclude:
We can parse all we want to about what privacy policies exist and how they are being respected, but the bottom line is: Experian is now in bed with your Social Security data. Whether they have limited access to only certain records or some other hands-off arraignment to respect privacy rules is unknown. We cannot know without looking at the specific details of the contract, which is unlikely to be available to the public.

Someone needs to review this relationship who has consumer interests in mind (Calling Elizabeth Warren?). Credit reporting agencies have shown a disturbing tendency to disrespect the public's privacy when profits are at stake and new business opportunities present themselves.  Knowledge is power; your data is the currency - when your financial well-being, your job application, your security clearance and your good name is at stake - who do you trust?

Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 2:22 PM PT: Last update: though I did't need to, I created an account since a few friends have not be able to get in. I was able to log in with little problem, but I was already prepared to research obscure personal data. Calls to Social Security indicate that this was put in place to help secure personal data living on their servers. Both Experian & SS statements seem to indicate there is some sort of "short lived" data exchange.

The jury is still out as to how data is transferred to/from Experian and whether they are simply an "extra step" front-end for creating an account via Experian's existing identity verification software and database. I fail to see how adding this outside vendor to filter account creation does ANYTHING to keep SS Admin data secure.

Originally posted to TechBob on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 04:43 AM PST.

Also republished by Social Security Defenders.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (143+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cory Bantic, Tinfoil Hat, DRo, BlueInRedCincy, We Won, PHScott, irate, a2nite, Gustogirl, SteveLCo, carpunder, boadicea, Cassandra Waites, cotterperson, Lucy Montrose, second gen, whenwego, SlightKC, meagert, Clytemnestra, marleycat, jfromga, susakinovember, Catesby, temptxan, Powered Grace, SD Goat, Vatexia, 420 forever, Rogneid, Siri, Simplify, weaponsofmassdeception, jbob, hideinplainsight, concernedamerican, turn blue, envwq, mslat27, Most Awesome Nana, cybersaur, pundit, Dem Beans, cyncynical, No one gets out alive, OldDragon, Dburn, AllisonInSeattle, MKinTN, acuppajo, BusyinCA, majcmb1, VetGrl, Lily O Lady, Yamara, triv33, RubDMC, mkfarkus, Chi, unfangus, dizzydean, chimpy, Brooke In Seattle, roses, Sun Tzu, semiot, Joieau, ToKnowWhy, RUNDOWN, OleHippieChick, marina, buckstop, emmasnacker, shypuffadder, wader, owlbear1, greycat, triplepoint, bobswern, freesia, GeorgeXVIII, StrayCat, HoundDog, tle, Ignacio Magaloni, mzinformed, gustynpip, sostos, Bluerall, pat of butter in a sea of grits, Eileen B, Aquarius40, luckylizard, 2laneIA, nailbender, boudi08, filby, cocinero, sceptical observer, TheDuckManCometh, trumpeter, musiccitymollie, profh, Oldowan, splashoil, PhilJD, gooderservice, eru, sydneyluv, priceman, exNYinTX, fuzzyguy, splashy, nuclear winter solstice, dotsright, AoT, prettygirlxoxoxo, FrY10cK, Bcre8ve, GrannyOPhilly, grollen, poligirl, D minor, Ice Blue, JesseCW, dragonlady, VTCC73, Rosaura, tardis10, IreGyre, ColoTim, wilderness voice, wonmug, Willa Rogers, yogipohaku, Carol in San Antonio, raboof, BlueMississippi, sturunner, 2dot, blueoasis, Thestral, sphealey

    "Curiouser and curiouser!"

    by TechBob on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 04:43:05 AM PST

  •  Scary. (52+ / 0-)

    Something I experienced recently also alarmed me. I moved recently and purchased something on credit. A credit card I used as part of my id had apparently not posted the address change to whatever query site they use to verify items. To bypass this discrepancy they asked me a series of questions.  I passed the scrutiny and the purchase was approved.  However, none of the questions they asked me were on a credit report! They asked previous car model and parents birth-dates, etc.  I found this alarming as they clearly have a lot of data that may or may not be correct and since it is hidden there is no way to know or correct any errors.  

    I'm with you; I wouldn't trust Experian  as far as I could throw them.

    Be the change you want to see in the world. -Gandhi

    by DRo on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 05:14:47 AM PST

    •  I don't trust credit-card companies (7+ / 0-)

      And I will never, ever, EVER have a revolving charge card again.  

      It's a hard choice, but I've been fucked in the ass hard by these people (Chase, in my case) and I just can't see giving them any control over my life ever again.

    •  UPDATE: Just created a Social Security online (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nchristine, triv33, TechBob, denise b

      account.

      Also, waited almost thirty minutes to speak to a Social Security customer service rep.  Must give credit where credit is due--he was definitely very helpful, courteous and answered all but one question (not his fault, he read me two conflicting regulations, so, he did the best he could under the circumstances).

      Having said that--two of the four questions were absurd, IMO.

      One was asking me for an address that is almost 20 years old--got lucky (it is mutilple choice, but it includes a 'none of the above' which made it a bit dicey.)  At any rate, in the end, was able to answer (guess at) that one correctly.

      Then, it asked the 'car tag' question, regarding a vehicle that he not been registered for almost three years.  Luckily, I still have it, because the bank didn't release the lien years ago, and I've never taken the time to get the release.  Therefore, I've not sold it yet (although it's never driven.)

      So, I was able to go outside and look at the tag.  Seems to me that logic would have them restrict such questions to "current car tags."

      Bottom line--there's definitely room for improvement in their security system.

      [I only went online because the Soc Sec Cust Serv Rep verified that they would not  be sending out ANY benefit statements, ever, even though they initially claimed that they would resume statements to folks who were within a few years of early retirement age.]

      So good luck, folks.  

      Better memorize all the car tags you've ever had, LOL!

      Mollie

      “If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

      by musiccitymollie on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 02:13:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  My question would be - can you access the new (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        musiccitymollie

        acct with SSA without going through Experian again??

        •  nchristine, I'm not a programmer or anything, but (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          nchristine

          as I watched my bottom left screen (Mozilla Firefox) it appears that the only site I accessed was the SSA.org site, and the "secureSSA" portion of the SSA.org site.

          I watched twice to verify that Experian wasn't processing the data (my username and password).

          But I would be interested in hearing from other folks who've registered since this new system was put in place.

          If my own circumstances did not sometimes restrict my ability to go to the Social Security Office, I would not have enrolled.

          Anyway, I didn't care for being greeted at the door by someone who looked like he belonged on the roof of a building as part of a SWAT Team.  [I'm in a very peaceful University town.  Haven't heard of a homicide here in years, so this new practice appears ridiculous.]

          Mollie

          “If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

          by musiccitymollie on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 03:16:56 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  The Experian screen is one time* (0+ / 0-)

          Once you are authenticated all you need is your login and password and then you are in the SSA website.

          *Where one time means until you successfully authenticate. For most people it's one try, for many it's more than 1. Took me two tries.

  •  Scary as heck. (11+ / 0-)

    I've never expected much out of Social Security by the time I get to it, but I've wanted it to stay competent for as long as my parents were collecting it.

    •  Contact about what? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wader

      The diary author is mistaken. Experian verifies your identity based on information they already have. No Social Security data is or has been transferred to them. End of story.

      •  Are you certain or stating this because you've (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Eileen B, fuzzyguy, JesseCW, TechBob

        never heard about it?  Can you explain the situation of being redirected to Experian and then having to go to an SS office to get an account re established?

        "If you trust you are not critical; if you are critical you do not trust" by our own Dauphin

        by gustynpip on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 08:55:39 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes I am certain. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          geordie, Sue B

          Here is the situation:

          1. SSA has sensitive data about you (basically how much money you have earned from working over your lifetime), and they both want to give you access, and want to protect the data so someone else does not get access to it. They are much more concerned with latter. That is why they have rolled out this service just now, when your bank has been giving you access to your actual money online for many years.

          2. SSA decided they would contract out the process of authenticating our identity for the purposes of access their website to Experian. When you go to the mySSA page you get redirected to the Experian site and then must match your answers to their admittedly often obscure and bizarre trivia about you with the records they already have in their file. If Experian think the online person is the same as the person in their file they pass you back to SSA and say this person is OK.

          3. If that process fails or if you choose for some reason not to have your records accessible online, you can always visit a Social Security office to have your identity authenticated and set up access to the website. People who have been victims of spousal abuse for example, will sometimes lock online access tot heir account since it could allow someone with intimate knowledge of their personal details to access their current address.

          Clearly the system they have is cumbersome and if fails to work often enough that significant improvements are necessary.  That said, there are no hi-jinks going on. This is SSA being overcautious, not incautious.

          •  I hope that your information is correct. But if (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            DRo, tardis10, triv33

            what the diarists wrote about this system is correct, we should demand that it be improved ASAP.

            Don't know what's worse--dealing with the often rude and/or inefficient customer service reps, or going to our local office with its Swat Team-looking police guards at the door (that is serious folks--couldn't believe my eyes when I visited the office last year, to help a relative).

            This is particularly irksome since the Administration had our annual hard copy Social Security benefit statements 'cut off.'  Mr. Mollie and I were supposed to receive one in 2012, and we're still waiting for them.

            I'll be calling these folks today, for sure.  When I get a good number, I'll post it here for everyone else.

            Mollie

            “If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

            by musiccitymollie on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 09:48:13 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yes it is (0+ / 0-)

              1. My information is first hand and it is correct. The diarist was speculating by his own admission.

              2. You should still demand the system be improved ASAP. But the problem is that Experian's authentication system is too obtuse, or too error-prone. The problem is NOT a violation of your private information (Experian gains no access to SSA's data about you).

              3. SSA receives hundred if not thousands of threats every year. Employees have been attacked. That is why they have armed guards--and video surveillance--at every office. An office in Arizona was just recently bombed (with no damage to life or major property damage thankfully). Sixteen Social Security employees dies in the bombing of the Federal building in Oklahoma City. So they may be rude and inefficient but they also put their lives on the line to serve the public.

              4. SSA will eventually offer many more online services than just an electronic version of the Social Security Statement. For now though you can get an equivalent estimate of your benefit using the the online retirement estimator.
              http://www.ssa.gov/...

              the login procedure is not the same as the one being discussed in this diary.

              You can get a copy of the information in the statement at your local field office.

              •  Sorry, but I don't believe I'm "mistaken" (4+ / 0-)

                Quoting Experian's press release, to access the SS site, an person:

                " must be able to provide information about themselves that matches information already on file with Social Security"
                The # of bedrooms in your house or your old auto plate #s are NOT "on file with Social Security". Directly stating that they use information already on file with Social Security implies they have access to SS files. The questions they ask are from their credit files, I know this after answering them to obtain my "free" report to keep track of their errors.

                Either Experian is mistaken in their PR about the service they provide to Social Security or they are simply using their own data to verify identity - again, NOT what they state.  

                If they are only using their credit history data to verify identity - this is also of concern to us.  What about people who have little credit history - or some older people who have NO credit history? Not as rare as you'd think.

                If we somehow assume that Experian is able to maintain an internal "firewall" on the data they access from SS with respect to their own files; who would possibly think this would be error free? If you have had ANY direct experience with Experian, you know how poor their records can be.

                Ever tried to CALL Experian to deal with problems or get THEIR errors fixed? Their mistakes happen instantly - you're lucky if you get things fixed within 6 weeks and the burden of proof is on you. Further, this is only the information that you have access to: ever try to protest your Credit Score? Do you think you'll be able to fix errors in their new "identity security" product? New products are conveniently NOT directy covered by consumer protection laws.

                I stand by my deductions, and I retain my concerns about turning over "security checks" to a private vendor that has shown itself prone to outrageous and persistent errors and has poor accountability and responsiveness to customers.

                "Curiouser and curiouser!"

                by TechBob on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 02:41:17 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  What you think but don't know is the problem (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  2dot

                  First, You go to SSA's website and say you want to activate your account. You tell them who you are. First they check their records to see if you exist. I suspect if you give them a fake SSN at this stage you get dumped out or something.

                  Second, SSA communicates to Experian that some guy named John Q. Public from Jerkwater, PA, wants to access our site. IS this guy really JOhn Q. Public from Jerkwater.

                  Third, the Experian screen comes up. They ask you questions to match against data they already have on John Q. Public from Jerkwater. If he is not already in their database, I assume you get kicked out. If your answers match theirs they send SSA a yes.

                  Fourth, SSA gives you login and password credentials and you have an account. You have no further contact with Experian when accessing the SSA site.

                  What information did SSA pass to Experian? Your name and address. Maybe date of birth. How the hell else does Experian know who to verify? And if Experian doesn't already have this information about you then their service is clearly of no use to SSA. (the reason SSA is using someone to do their verification is because SSA does not have reliable current information on your place of residence).

                  Does this count as Experian having it's hooks in SSA data? I do not see how that is the case. Your SSA data is your name attached to an  SSN, and includes your earnings history, your employer, your tax contribution history and if you are a beneficiary-- all the information on your application, and your benefit payments. This the stuff that SSA guards with its life. It does not guard your name and address. SSA does not give Experian your SSN, even tough there is zero chance Experian wouldn't have it in their records if you have any credit history at all. They don't get it from SSA, they get it from financial institutions.

                  So SSA and Experian exchange a list of names and addresses and a yes or no on verification. That is a far, far cry from Experian peeking into the Master Beneficiary record which is clearly what you are insinuating in this diary.

          •  How are you certain? (0+ / 0-)

            Meaning, what are your sources? What is your experience?

            What's it to you, anyway?

            The "extreme wing" of the Democratic Party is the wing that is hell-bent on protecting the banks and credit card companies. ~ Kos

            by ozsea1 on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 10:08:08 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  It's your choice... (0+ / 0-)

              to be an ignorant fool or not.

              I know this information firsthand. How I know that is my business.

              Here is what the public SSA website says (Obviously you haven't bothered to read it):

              https://secure.ssa.gov/...

              •  Why don't you step away and come back when (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                JesseCW, triv33, gustynpip

                you can converse with people without being so insulting.

                It's your choice to be an ignorant fool or not.
                I choose not to believe someone as rude as you've been.
              •  Totally unnecessary arrogance and nastiness. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                triv33, DRo

                This site is not big on the "believe this because I said so" route.  It is big on asking for verification - usually.  I will grant you that we seem to accept the outrageous much more readily than the reasonable.  However, even when providing the reasonable, it's much wiser to do so with some degree of courtesy and a lot less arrogance.

                I do, however, appreciate your having responded to my question and providing the information you provided.

                "If you trust you are not critical; if you are critical you do not trust" by our own Dauphin

                by gustynpip on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 11:44:32 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Yes, the truth is nasty. Spare me. (0+ / 0-)

                  I've taken a sizable portion out of my day trying to correct what is a damaging mis-perception about how SSA protects your personal information. Educating the public is indeed part of my job, but I am not sure my boss wants me hanging out here. So I will maintain my anonymity, thank you very much.

                  It is partly SSA's fault for not making the answers to these questions crystal clear right up front. That said, most of it is on their website and I liked to that repeatedly.

                  Again: https://secure.ssa.gov/...

                  If the diarist had read this in the first place, I could have saved a lot of time.

                  I  have a lot of firsthand information about how this works, why decisions were made etc.. and I have no intention of compromising those sources. You can choose to believe me or not. That is on you, not me.

                  •  your link provides the agency's respresentation (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    JesseCW, triv33, poligirl

                    of the matter, that's all it is. Hardly impartial.

                    Your continuing authoritarian assertions of "facts" do not make them factual.

                    FAIL.

                    The "extreme wing" of the Democratic Party is the wing that is hell-bent on protecting the banks and credit card companies. ~ Kos

                    by ozsea1 on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 12:21:55 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  You'd make an excellent climate change denier nt (0+ / 0-)
                      •  Your argument is that this is great, and we (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        triv33, poligirl

                        shouldn't worry about it, because trust the people managing the SSA, that's why.

                        This is about opinions.  

                        If your job is to browbeat citizens and spit talking points when they disapprove of their government enriching corporations, all I can say is that I prefer being unemployed and wondering how the hell I'm going to pay the power bill.

                        Sometimes, calling it your job just can't ever make it right.

                        "I have often seen people uncivil by too much civility, and tiresome in their courtesy." Michel de Montaigne

                        by JesseCW on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 02:34:58 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  No it is not. (0+ / 0-)

                          My argument is that SSA is not giving any protected information to Experian. Experian has no access to your Social Security records. Yes they get your name, and probably address, but SSA does not protect that, and of course Experian already knows it.

                          My argument is that SSA thinks they need Experian's identity verification service to properly authenticate people in real-time, online. (note: they do not think they need anyone's help to authenticate you in person). I find that as surprising as many people, considering they used to just put this stuff in the mail. I find it amazing that it has taken them years to catch up to banks for example. But that was their decision.

                          So those two things are facts. Not opinions. And those are important facts to get out there when some one is publicly insinuating the opposite is true.

                          If anything SSA is being too cautious with our data and making it hard for the average citizen to do their business. That's my opinion.

                          If your problem is merely that SSA contracts with for profit entities then the deal with Experian is small potatoes. (This is a contract in the tens of millons not hundreds). But SSA also enriches Verizon, Microsoft, Staples, Dell as well as ADP and Lockheed Martin (who provide SSA with huge amounts of programmers). Are you outraged that SSA employees need to use phones?

                  •  I have no interest in outing you, but here's the (4+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    triv33, poligirl, Willa Rogers, gustynpip

                    thing.

                    Arguments from authority aren't worth a damn.  You can graduate from Harvard Law and still be an idiot who thinks Dredd Scott was well decided.

                    There are people with M.D.s who insist HIV is unrealted to AIDS.

                    That aside, it's just fucking goofy to think that anyone will accept an argument based on authority when you choose not to disclose from what source you think this this authority derives.

                    Your argument is going to have to stand on its merits, not bashing those who disagree with the scam you're defending, and not on some "trust me, because I'm important in ways I cannot describe" bullshit.

                    "I have often seen people uncivil by too much civility, and tiresome in their courtesy." Michel de Montaigne

                    by JesseCW on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 02:32:25 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  When did I say I was important? (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      2dot

                      I'm a fly on the wall, but my information is first hand and collected over a number of years. I think the information publicly available backs up what I am saying. The diarist, by contrast, is  "deducing" things, he has no first hand knowledge. But his conjectures are simply false.

                      You can look around  this site and check my record. I surely have opinions about things like everyone else, but I have factual knowledge about Social Security that I think stands up pretty well. ( I do make mistakes, from time to time also)

                      I was under the illusion that people would find it helpful to know that in fact SSA was not giving your protected information away, despite the fevered imagination of the diarist. You apparently don't care. Good for you.

                  •  No, it wasn't the truth that was nasty. It was (0+ / 0-)

                    you.  Don't blame your own nastiness and arrogance on truth.  

                    It's always so convincing when someone says  "I have these fantastic sources but I can't provide those sources.  They're much too sensitive for peons like you.  

                    Give me a break.  I was ready to, while not ready to rely on your statements, at least give them credence.  After your arrogance exhibitionism, I find your statements less than persuasive.  If your job is indeed to "educate the public", you're pretty bad at your job.

                    "If you trust you are not critical; if you are critical you do not trust" by our own Dauphin

                    by gustynpip on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 08:43:24 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Your truth-o-meter is broken (0+ / 0-)

                      My identity on Dkos is anonymous. If that's a problem for you then perhaps you should at least start posting under your own real name.

                      I am offering you some information gthat I am personally privy to. SSA is not giving Experian access to your private records. I have linked to the places where SSA makes these points as well on their public website. No one else in this conversation is offering you any facts, they are just offering conjecture, supposition, suspicion, paranoia.

                      You can believe who you want I guess, but that is on you, not me.

                      •  You "offered" it in an arrogant and dismissive (0+ / 0-)

                        manner.  No one has a problem with your maintain your anonymity here.  It's pretty standard.  What we do have a problem with is your arrogance in demanding that we accept your statements because you said them when all you are is an anonymous blogger.  We have absolutely no idea whether you're someone who knows what you're talking about or just someone trying to stir the pot.  When your arrogant and dismissive, it certainly seems more likely it's the latter.  And your arrogance continues in your determination that you've been justified in being offended that people haven't bowed down to your great wisdom and knowledge - even though to us you're just an anonymous blogger.

                        It's not that we're demanding or expecting you to disclose who you are.  It's that you have choices.  You can either disclose either your identity or at least your source of information and make it likely people will accept what you say.  Or you can retain your anonymity and refuse to provide any verification of your offer of information and people will consider it the offerings of some anonymous blogger who refuses to provide any verification and so probably doesn't have any.  If you're not willing to provide some support for your assertions, you're probably as well off not bothering to provide them.

                        I again will say that if you carry your arrogance into your job, and your job involves dealing with the public, I'd put money on it that you're not very good at it.

                        "If you trust you are not critical; if you are critical you do not trust" by our own Dauphin

                        by gustynpip on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 05:37:10 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

              •  touchy, aren't we? (0+ / 0-)

                Extraordinary claims requre extraordinary proof, and all you've done set off the bs troll-meter, bigtime.

                The "extreme wing" of the Democratic Party is the wing that is hell-bent on protecting the banks and credit card companies. ~ Kos

                by ozsea1 on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 12:12:00 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Extraordinary (0+ / 0-)

                  Writing a diary insinuating that Experian has access to your social Security data.

                  Providing a link to the actual government privacy statements (that even explains the mechanics of how this whole thing actually works) that make it clear that is not the case is not trolling.

              •  Disregarding your condesection (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Willa Rogers, triv33

                Perhaps you should read your link.  It says nothing about the new, outside verified security program and has no date or back-link to which page this statement referred to (which is a bit odd from a web design standpoint - most gov sites are pretty rigorous about documentation and dates).

                Stating that:

                " ... we ask you to provide several different types of information and to answer questions that only you should be able to answer."
                says nothing about where the info comes from (Experian or SS data) and that is my point.

                "Curiouser and curiouser!"

                by TechBob on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 02:50:24 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  *ack* (0+ / 0-)

                  (opens door)
                  "condescension"
                  (slams door, walks off ... dammit, blew my exit)

                  "Curiouser and curiouser!"

                  by TechBob on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 10:05:44 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Oh jeez. (0+ / 0-)

                  BUt you need to go down to the what we do with your information tab.
                   "We verify your information against our records. Experian verifies your information against its records.
                  We will not share your Social Security number with Experian."

                  I agree that the website is not nearly as clear as it should be and that is precisely why I was chiming in with my personal knowledge. When I first tried to log on my reaction was WTF, as well. But I also had a chance to ask the people who designed the system what was going on.  So I am trying to help clarify for you. I will also try to get SSA to make their system clearer (something over which I have very little influence, but you never know)

                  To clarify:

                  The first screen you come to is SSA's and it asks for name SSN, address, phone number email. SSA checks that against their records. Only SSA knows for sure what names are supposed to match with what SSNs and birth dates (also birth places and mother's name--you had to show a birth certificate at some point to get a SSN). They check to make sure this matches their records. (ALmost certainly they did not previously have a telephone number or email from you. Their address data can be unreliable as well especially if you have moved recently and did not tell them.)

                  Then SSA passes a name and I think address to Experian and asks them to run their verification screen. Can the user match the data that Experian has. Experian passes a yes or no to SSA. SSA is not capturing or storing the data in the Experian verification screen.

                  But the bottom line is that at no time does Experian get access to the data about you that SSA by law has to protect. Hell there are making it difficult to let you see your own data.

                  TO get more The SSA website says:

          •  I suspect what we have here is a Privacy Act (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            DRo, JesseCW

            violation.

            I believe we need to have lawsuits to stop this, pronto.

            LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

            by BlackSheep1 on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 10:09:04 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Do you really want to know what the big (12+ / 0-)

            problem with this is?

            This is just another instance of something that didn't have to be privatized being privatized because it's cheaper and more expedient and it feeds that narrative that "the government can't do ANYTHING right, the private sector ALWAYS does it better."

            Well, no it doesn't and some things, like Social Security, a lot of us believe the government has been a huge success at. Many people don't believe that government services, info and such, should be outsourced or privatized.

            If the government knew they needed this, then they should have trained for and made it so, in house.

            I shave my legs with Occam's razor~

            by triv33 on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 11:07:16 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  really, the private sector doing everything... (8+ / 0-)

              better is the very definition of a right wing meme.

              There’s a word for the people who keep complaining that the “ideologues” are getting in their way: Lobbyists. ~ RJ Eskow

              by poligirl on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 11:11:29 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  I agree except for "being privatized (7+ / 0-)

              because it's cheaper."

              That's a right-wing talking point, or meme that politicians of all stripes love to spout.  Don't fall for it.

              This is being done for reasons of conservative (libertarian) ideology.  Just like the rest of the 'fiscal crises hysteria' is intended to frighten folks into allowing the PtB to do what they would NEVER normally get away with--eviscerate the social safety net.

              It is almost ALWAYS MORE EXPENSIVE WHEN FARMED OUT TO THE PRIVATE SECTOR.

              For instance:  Medicare vs Private Health Insurance.

              Mollie

              “If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

              by musiccitymollie on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 11:41:03 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  nonsense (0+ / 0-)

              SSA does not believe they have the ability to verify you online. They are happy to do so in person. For the past 10 years SSA provided almost no online services because they couldn't solve the problem of verifying your identity to their satisfaction. Their problem is not their own capabilities, but their security standards (which may well be unreasonably high).  Call me when the IRS  allows you to log in an view your past years' returns. Or when the Census lets you see your own responses from 30 years ago.

              To your general point, it is obvious that every government should not try to maintain expertise that they buy cheaper and better elsewhere. Why should the government run a software company at SSA? Should they employees their own

              •  Nonsense? (5+ / 0-)

                Bullshit.

                I shave my legs with Occam's razor~

                by triv33 on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 11:51:59 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Let's just stipulate (0+ / 0-)

                  That you have no knowledge of the SSA-Experian arrangement. OK?

                  You have no idea of how much it would cost SSA to do this to their own satisfaction.
                  You have no idea how much this arrangement is costing them.
                  You have no idea how much SSA will save in front-line in-person service costs over the future if they can stand-up their on-line services effectively.

                  Just so we are both clear:
                  You have no idea about any of the facts in this case.

                  What we do know is: You "don't believe in privatizing any part of any government services ever."

              •  yeah, i think they should. given that SS, Medicare (8+ / 0-)

                Medicaid etc, as well as IRS docs et al are all government programs, wouldn't it make sense for the government to work to develop a security system that they could use for all government run programs?

                does that not make more sense?

                surely, since we put money into development for things like say, the space program and the internet, why on earth is putting money into developing something that would be very usable security wise so out of the question?

                why?

                There’s a word for the people who keep complaining that the “ideologues” are getting in their way: Lobbyists. ~ RJ Eskow

                by poligirl on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 11:57:41 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  allow me to answer the question. big business (8+ / 0-)

                  give the money to the politicians; the politicians in turn direct business their way.

                  the politicians are invested in NOT having government develop much of anything.

                  There’s a word for the people who keep complaining that the “ideologues” are getting in their way: Lobbyists. ~ RJ Eskow

                  by poligirl on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 11:59:53 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  The answer (0+ / 0-)

                  First, Government agencies with sensitive information for the most part do not share it with other government agencies. That includes SSA, IRS, Census, CMS.

                  Second, SSA has it's own very high security requirements. Why? Because they are a very conservative organization. They think if they screw up, Congress will murder them. So they are intent on not screwing up.

                  Clearly they have created a security hurdle that is much higher than say banks have for allowing you to access and spend your actual money. They have set a security hurdle that is too high for them to adequate address with their own data and IT infrastructure.

                  •  so then we invest the money into developing (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    nchristine, triv33, m16eib

                    a security system that can be used individually by other departments.

                    if the private sector can develop one, so can the public sector.

                    saying that government can't is untruthful. saying the government won't is probably more what you're meaning. and to that i say pshaw!

                    There’s a word for the people who keep complaining that the “ideologues” are getting in their way: Lobbyists. ~ RJ Eskow

                    by poligirl on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 12:54:36 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  If that was how government worked, great (0+ / 0-)

                      No one said SSA can't do this. I said they decided that could not do it to their own satisfaction. That was their decision. Then again they are happy to verify you in-person.

                      For whatever reason they were willing to do somethings by mail, than they are willing to do online.

                      OK so you are a smart person: what pieces of information should SSA require to verify your identity online and give you access to your records?

                      As a thought experiment think about how anyone can really know you are who you say you are?

                      •  The very same can be said of Experian - (3+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        triv33, poligirl, m16eib
                        OK so you are a smart person: what pieces of information should SSA require to verify your identity online and give you access to your records?
                      •  someone higher up should tell them to... (5+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        m16eib, JesseCW, triv33, nchristine, angel d

                        do it to their satisfaction instead of outsourcing something like this to a company known for fuckups.

                        i worked around programmers and in IT for a good decade and if someone really wanted to have better security developed, they could.

                        i think this was the easier decision for them - a decision to move some off of their plate. which is understandable. but, what i'm saying is that for things as important as SS - and i would daresay you probably think of SS as important - that we should never pass the buck to the private sector. and we should certainly be able to develop better security than the private sector, even at a high bar.

                        i understand you're saying that this was the government's choice and why the government made that decision. i am telling you that in my opinion, the government's choice is piss poor, both in deciding that they didn't want to bother with/spend money developing a high bar security system AND the decision to outsource to Experian, of all places.

                        There’s a word for the people who keep complaining that the “ideologues” are getting in their way: Lobbyists. ~ RJ Eskow

                        by poligirl on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 02:29:53 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  I think you are missing something (0+ / 0-)

                          SSA has no problem keeping your records private.

                          SSA has no problem verifying your identity. They do it all the time in person. IN extreme circumstances they will actually verify a person's identity and cut them a check right there and then (as they did after Katrina, along with a note form the president of BoA and The Secretary of the Treasury attesting to any bank that the check was in fact authentic)

                          What they don't have confidence in is verifying your identity online in real-time. They can't just say Oh fuck it, it's good enough for us. They think if they screw up--if some perpetrator of domestic violence somehow accesses the SS records of his spouse who has taken refuge in some undisclosed place, and then tracks her down and commits an act of violence--there will be hell to pay before congress. The public will demand they shut down online access, after all they have 1500 storefronts, etc... That's how they think.

                          Anyway, so what is this high bar security system going to consist of. They can ask you about your name, birth date, SSN, mother's name, place of birth. they can ask you to verify your social security wages from your w2 for any year you worked. What if they decided that is not enough?

                          They cannot verify your address, or phone number. They don't know if you are married, or if you own a house or have a bank account or credit card. I think they know the name of your employer. Not entirely sure.

                          •  you are not understanding me. i am not... (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            triv33, Sharon Wraight

                            arguing that SSA can provide that level now and is choosing not to. and i am not arguing that SSA has a problem with keeping records private.

                            what i am saying is that gatekeepers by nature, no matter how stringent, have access, at least some, the the gate; they could not gatekeep if that was not so.  and what i am saying is that if SSA cannot secure access enough to pass muster themselves they should not  farm out security even for access; they should say "fuck it" and not do it at this time.

                            as for what a high bar system includes, well, i'm not a programmer, so i'm not going to speculate what is possible. but clearly there are a lot of people, including myself, who have been victims of Experian's special brand of misinformation, so much so that trusting them as gatekeepers is a very questionable idea to many of us. makes one wonder how they got the contract and what type of bidding process was undertaken to decide who got it.

                            There’s a word for the people who keep complaining that the “ideologues” are getting in their way: Lobbyists. ~ RJ Eskow

                            by poligirl on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 01:09:36 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                  •  No, their standard isn't TOO high, it's based (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    poligirl, triv33, m16eib

                    upon data that is not always 100% accurate.

            •  We're in big trouble if the richest country in (7+ / 0-)

              the world, supposedly the richest, can't secure and validate information for a program that's been in place for 76 years and has to pay such a fucked up private sector business like Experian to do it for them.

              How many bedrooms in your home?  You've got to be kidding.  That's really secure, huh?

              Go back to mailing the information through the government mail system until they can figure out this newfangled Internet that just went online yesterday.

              •  Concur. Go back to mailing annual statements. (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                gooderservice, poligirl, triv33, m16eib

                Is the SSA unaware that NOT EVERYONE even has a computer, or access to one.

                And, does the SSA want folks who don't have a personal computer to go down and use a computer at the public library for this sensitive type of information?  For Pete's Sake, what were these folks thinking.  

                Saving money on government mailings was part of Bowles-Simpson's recommendations.  Guess they thought they had to act immediately.

                Just found an AARP article.  Stopping the mailing of the benefit statements saves a paltry 60 million per year.  Bet it pales compared to what they pay Experian.  Here's the link.

                This was an ill-conceived policy change.  And clearly, the concern was NOT saving money.

                Mollie

                “If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

                by musiccitymollie on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 12:09:49 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  The point your made is much, much bigger than (6+ / 0-)

                  that.

                  Is the SSA unaware that NOT EVERYONE even has a computer, or access to one.
                  The private sector is NOT, I repeat NOT creating the infrastructure to bring high speed Internet access to EVERYONE no matter where they live in the U.S.

                  Sure, if you're wealthy and want to pay thousands of dollars for the wire/cable to be run to your home from the nearest junction, sure.  

                  Private sector companies won't do that because it's too costly to run the wire in rural areas.

                  So when information from the government is only available online, it's just wrong, wrong, wrong.

                  And OT, an elderly retired neighbor of mine who worked for local government recently had their health benefits change to be run by the state.  I accompanied him to a meeting where they were explaining what the changes were and yadda ya.

                  They handed out  three pieces of paper when we walked in, mostly advertising the different companies, and there were representatives from the health insurance companies from which to choose that spoke.

                  All these people kept saying one by one, to find out about this, go to this website, to find out about that, go to that website and so on.

                  During the question and answer period, several elderly people stood up and stated they didn't have computers, so how could they find out this information.

                  All of the responses were:  Go the library or get someone who has a computer to help you.

                  I can't tell you how pissed I was listening to this shit, and I mean shit.  That's bullshit.  I felt so bad for these people who were being given these answers by healthcare insurance company representatives who kept smiling.  Bleh.

                  And the people attending lived in an area where everyone had access to the Internet... if they could afford it and actually had a computer.

                  And then there is the other issue of if you do have a computer, even if you're going to a "safe" site, that doesn't mean there aren't any keyloggers or malware on your computer to capture the sensitive information.

                  This just stinks all around.

                  (Sorry... stepping down now.)  

                  •  Actually, thanks, gooderservice. Said it better (4+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    triv33, gooderservice, nchristine, m16eib

                    than I could.

                    We have a couple of very elderly aunts who do not have computers (one was childless, and other has three sons, none of which have home computers).  The sons can well afford a computer, but simply have no use for them.  [They also don't allow TV's in their homes, because they think they're a bad influence.]

                    My point being that there are folks (including the three men who are younger than Boomers, sorry, not sure what that generation is called) that don't have one, whose close relatives don't have one, and for whom going to the public library to use one at ages 94 and 99, would be quite ridiculous.

                    Thank you for sharing your experience with the insurance company reps.

                    It's appalling to me that our government shows such insensitivity to the most vulnerable, and in some instances, the most economically hard-pressed members of our society.  

                    Really, it's quite chilling.

                    Mollie

                    “If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

                    by musiccitymollie on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 01:44:19 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                •  Your bet (0+ / 0-)

                  "Just found an AARP article.  Stopping the mailing of the benefit statements saves a paltry 60 million per year.  Bet it pales compared to what they pay Experian.  Here's the link."

                  OK so what do you think they are paying Experian?

                  Do you think this information is public?

                  Do you think SSA might be planning to save on other online services?

                  How much do you plan to bet?

              •  You are confused about what Security means (0+ / 0-)

                They are happy to verify you in person. The problem they have is doing it online.

                After Hurricane Katrina, when people lost everything., They set up shop in shelters and issued people temporary ID based on data only they had in their system (and only they could access in a practical way). They were the only government agency capable of doing this.

                Currently SSA can give you an estimate of your benefits based on your earnings history, without all the rig-a-ma-roll.
                http://www.ssa.gov/...

                They can take your application for retirement or disability benefits (DI not SSI) online.

                What they are unwilling to do is potentially compromise your personal earnings record information online unless they are convinced they can verify your identity online. That is they set their own standard for security extremely high.

                The problem is not that they are unsecure. It is that they want to be more secure than is perhaps reasonable.

                •  Quit your insults. (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  poligirl, triv33, m16eib

                  I'm not confused because I won't adopt your bullshit. Sorry, ain't happening.

                •  then make them secure. PERIOD. do not... (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  gooderservice, triv33, m16eib

                  outsource this shit.

                  i don't know how much clearer we can get here.

                  There’s a word for the people who keep complaining that the “ideologues” are getting in their way: Lobbyists. ~ RJ Eskow

                  by poligirl on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 12:56:46 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  This is a no brainer. Yet for some reason (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    poligirl, triv33, m16eib

                    there are Experian champions.  Go figure.

                  •  Your social security records ARE secure (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    m16eib

                    Maybe too secure if people are having so much trouble accessing online what used to come in the mail.

                    Why is this confusing?

                    •  It's not confusing - Experian does not have (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      triv33, m16eib, poligirl

                      100% accurate data in their system.  Experian is wanting answers based upon that data in their system.  Experian will not release, nor change, what information they have on you, even when you have a lawyer tell them it's not correct.  How difficult is that to understand??

                      Their 'security' questions are based upon faulty data and some data that most reasonable people would not be expected to remember (when did you get your first credit card??? - who really knows that answer and why would they want to remember something that trivial??).

                      •  Right (0+ / 0-)

                        So the problem is not that Experian authenticates people who it should not (unless someone can somehow guess the inaccurate data they maintain), but that it falis to authenticate people it should. In other words, SSA by accepting Experian's verification is keeping some data private (from the person who record it is) when it should not.

                        In this case you can go directly to SSA and they will authenticate you in person. No need to go through Experian at all. In fact you can do that directly and never bother with Experian in the first place. Is that a pain? Yes. Of course a few years ago you still had to go to an office in person to file for benefits. You still have to go in person to get a replace SS card

                        The alternative is that SSA simply authenticates you online using the information they have. and the real-time response capability they have. Their concern in this case however is that they will in fact authenticate some people who they should not. (Once you log in they offer you the choice to use an additional layer of security, each time you login in they text you a code, and you have to enter it). And that they will reap the negative repercussions of that. Of course it is true that someone could spoof the Experian screen, but SSA thinks it is harder to do that.

          •  Of course, if you are diabetic you might not be (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            gooderservice, DRo, triv33

            able to go to a SS office as they won't let you take your insulin in with you.  In practice it is the same with any other pills as you need water to take them and they will search you to ensure you don't have any food or drinks on you.

            You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

            by Throw The Bums Out on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 11:16:02 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Social Security is wasting our money on (7+ / 0-)

            bonuses for Experian executives instead of spending it on legitimate overhead.

            This is toxic company dedicated to harming consumers for profit.

            We should not be forced to support them, or the amoral creatures willing to work for them.

            "I have often seen people uncivil by too much civility, and tiresome in their courtesy." Michel de Montaigne

            by JesseCW on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 11:25:49 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  This is especially maddening since obstensibly (5+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              triv33, tardis10, DRo, gooderservice, JesseCW

              the Social Security Administration "cut off" sending out annual benefit statements in order to save money!!!

              Mollie

              “If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

              by musiccitymollie on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 11:28:33 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  No they are saving, and will save (0+ / 0-)

              Experian gets paid on a one time basis to authenticate you. After that you just log in.

              Social Security was spending $70 million or so to print social security statements. SSA is spending a fraction that to get you authenticated. Once you are authenticated you will have the ability in the future to do a lot more things online, which will save SSA money because they won't have to commit manual resources in their field offices, and it will spare millions of people a year a trip tot he office.

              Perhaps you should tell us which company can perform this service for SSA and is not toxic.

              •  the SSA. (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                JesseCW, DRo, gooderservice, wonmug

                how about them, could they do it? yes, they could!

                I shave my legs with Occam's razor~

                by triv33 on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 11:36:48 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  and BTW... (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                JesseCW, DRo, gooderservice

                how are they saving any trips to the office if Experian is causing trips to the office with their fuck-ups?

                I shave my legs with Occam's razor~

                by triv33 on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 11:40:38 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I'll try this slowly: (0+ / 0-)

                  I agree there are too many verification fuckups at this stage, and clearly it will have to get better. The one fuckup that is not happening is that SSA is not giving any access to your social security records to Experian.

                  SSA was spending $70 million a year mailing out 160 million or so Social Security Statements every year. About 30 million of the 160 million went into the trash because of bad address (including foreign addresses). That's not a small fuckup.

                  Delivering those statements online to at least some people could be a big savings. More  important there are a whole host of services SSA provides in-person (read rather expensively) that they could save money on if they could deliver them on-line. Do you know how many millions of people come into their offices each year to replace a lost Social Security card?

                  Experian is involved in getting you online the first time. Their involvment ends after that. So SSA is trading the relatively small cost of that authentication process (even with the second or third tries it is something like 20 cents a person--I can't remember) with the many hundreds of millions they will save every year over the future if they can gets the services online and running.

              •  Providing a profit to Experian is "saving"? (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                DRo, triv33, nchristine, gooderservice

                Frankly - bullshit.

                You keep expecting everyone to just accept your premise the SSA cannot manage this in house.

                The IRS can manage to authenticate me.  At the State level, everyone from the EDD to the DMV can authenticate me on-line.

                But not the SSA?  

                I've been to local offices a few times.  The people seemed reasonably intelligent.

                "I have often seen people uncivil by too much civility, and tiresome in their courtesy." Michel de Montaigne

                by JesseCW on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 11:56:44 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Your disapproval is blinding you (0+ / 0-)

                  This is SSA's assessment, not mine. That's why it took them so long to do this.

                  If you read my posts, I have been clear this is in no small part a function of their own standards for security. They know they have lousy address data. They are betting the credit industry has better data. They are not permitted, by law, to get the address information from your W2, even though IRS sends SSA the wage amounts from your W2 every year.  

                  Authentication is a one-time cost, which if I am recalling correctly is much less than $1 a person. Let's just say total cost is $100 million. SSA was spending $70 million a year to mail out Social Security Statements. They have costs in the hundreds of millions  every year from traffic to their offices that could be much better done on-line (e.g. replacement SS cards; benefit verifications.)

                  It is very possible that Experian makes a profit on one-time authentication, and that SSA saves by substituting online processes for paper and in-person processes over a very long time.

                  By the way, the IRS does not authenticate you. It takes your signature, and your W2 as verification. It puts you in jail or takes your money if it can prove your are lying. And they take your money.  A major scandal right now is people using stolen SSNs and other personal info to file false returns that have refunds. IRS is not verifying your identity in those cases before paying a refund.

                  DMV verifies you in person. Not on-line. SSA will do that as well.

                   

                  •  DMV happily verifies me On-Line. I can get all (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    triv33, Willa Rogers

                    my records without going in.

                    You're once again claiming that there is no alternative way to verify people without using a private corporation and giving them a profit.

                    This is a nakedly pro-privatization argument.  

                    "It's very possible that Experian makes a profit"???

                    You can't just say "Of course they're taking a profit"?  You have to pretend it's just a possibility?

                    The IRS is getting scammed on occasion. It's not perfect.  Neither is a "how many bedrooms is your house" system.

                    Anyone closely related to you and knowledgeable about your finances could answer all those questions correctly anyway.

                    Lastly, why the fuck is Experian getting a fat helping of our Social Security contributions to fail to verify people?

                    You claim you're well informed (somehow) on all the details we peons don't have access too.  Ok.

                    What's the false rejection rate?  Since your argument is that this scam is really a good thing that will benefit us all, and that as long as it gets people to use on-line services so that SSA can employ fewer people, isn't it all a waste if most people are being falsely rejected?

                    "I have often seen people uncivil by too much civility, and tiresome in their courtesy." Michel de Montaigne

                    by JesseCW on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 02:26:44 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Didn't DMV previously verify you in person? (0+ / 0-)

                      I never claimed there was no alternate way, and I am a skeptic that SSA needs to use an outside service. What I said is that this is what SSA believes. And all that is beside the point that SSA is not giving access to their protected data.

                      SSA contracts with plenty of people who do things more efficiently than they do. I don't expect SSA to invent their own phone system. They use ATT or Verizon's or whoever. Likewise, why should they employs hundreds of programmers, re-inventing the data base wheel.

                      Lots of things only SSA can do. Private industry aggressively poaches SSA trained disability examiners, for example. Some things SSA should get help doing. I wish they would get some design pros to re-design their website for example.

                      I don't disagree with you about the false rejection rate (although we both agree that errs on the side of not compromising your data and can be rectified). If SSA accepts too high a rate then they are wasting resources. That's why they have IG's offices, congressional staff, and other such nosey assholes. Of course the rejection rate before this was 0, and the online access was 0. Your willingness to balance false positives and false negatives has to do with your aversion to risk.

                      You are assuming the equation is negative, without much data. Everything I have seen from the agency is they expect it to be a large positive. They are in big big trouble if they can't get online services working for them.

                      As for the "fat helping of our Social Security contributions" my understanding is that the cost per person is measured in cents, not dollars. And once you are in, you are done with them.

              •  As I mentioned earlier (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                triv33, nchristine

                I have no problem with providing some Social Security services online.  But considering that fact that not everyone has personal (home) computer access, I do not agree with the policy of stopping the mailings.  

                The 60 million dollars in the AARP (or 70 million which you quote) are a drop in the bucket of the federal budget.  There are many other places they could have looked for savings.

                And because this recommendation came from the Catfood Commission (Bowles-Simpson), I like it even less.  Here's the excerpt and link to The Moment of Truth.

                1.10.5 Reduce federal travel, printing, and vehicle budgets. . . . Additionally, we recommend allowing certain documents to be released in electronic-only form, and capping total  government printing expenditures. . . .
                This is a very vital and necessary for most (not all) folks to have when they consider their retirement options.  The very idea that a vital service like this gets the hatchet, is ridiculous in the first place (IMO).

                Mollie

                “If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

                by musiccitymollie on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 12:39:23 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  No, they're really not. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                nchristine, triv33
                SSA is spending a fraction that to get you authenticated.
                Because Experian is incompetent.  When you don't remember when you first got your credit card because who cares or how many bedrooms you actually have versus what they think you have, you still have to physically visit a SS office -- if you can drive, if you're physically capable of leaving your house, if you have someone to take you.
      •  According to the diarist, your info is outdated (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Eileen B, Aquarius40, DRo, fuzzyguy, JesseCW

        and wrong.

        "There's no ideology [t]here [on the right]. It's just about being a dick." Bill Maher, June 22, 2012.

        by caseynm on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 08:57:43 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Diarist is speculating. I am not. (0+ / 0-)

          Experian may suck in many ways, but they have no access to Social Security data. About that I am correct. The diarist has no idea what he/she is talking about.

          Experian are not "in control" of access to the website. You can go directly to Social Security field office and get authenticated in person (or lock online access to your data altogether). For anyone wanting to do this totally online, however, they do have to go through the Experian screen. SSA is free to contract with someone else if they can do a better job. Maybe they will decide to lower their security standards and use their own more limited verification process.

          •  Maybe we should just stop government contracting (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            nchristine

            of this kind of stuff, period. WTF is ANY private company doing with ANY access to private information? I have yet to see ANYTHING the private sector can do as well as or better than (in terms of governmental functions) government. Not one. Either the service is worse or the cost goes up.

            "There's no ideology [t]here [on the right]. It's just about being a dick." Bill Maher, June 22, 2012.

            by caseynm on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 02:05:56 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Bullshit. The very fact that you're applying is (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        triv33, gooderservice

        being relayed to them.

        "I have often seen people uncivil by too much civility, and tiresome in their courtesy." Michel de Montaigne

        by JesseCW on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 11:24:07 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Applying for what? (0+ / 0-)

          All Experian knows is that you want to set up your online password with SSA. They have no idea what you want to do there.

          For most people this is the only way to access the now defunct paper social Security statement, which used to be mailed to 180 million people every year. What value is that to Experian?

          •  If they know your age, and you're setting up (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            triv33, nchristine, gooderservice

            new access, they can make some pretty damned informed guesses.

            63 year old recently divorced woman struggling to pay her bills tries to access SS?  Yeah, they can make an informed guess that she's likely going to take early benefits.

            And they can profit from that.

            "I have often seen people uncivil by too much civility, and tiresome in their courtesy." Michel de Montaigne

            by JesseCW on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 11:58:21 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I'd be willing to bet... (0+ / 0-)

              .... they have enough information on people that they could predict your retirement age pretty easily. About 50% of women already take their benefits at age 62.

              Exactly why is that valuable to them? Compared to what they already know.

              This is incredibly weak tea, you are serving here.

  •  look what else they do! (20+ / 0-)
    Conducting a Social Security search is easy with Social Search, a powerful and cost-effective tool for tracking down a consumer when all other identifying information is outdated or incomplete.
    http://www.experian.com/...
  •  The lowest bidder gets the contract to handle (12+ / 0-)

    verifying identities that's also known to have their own data full of errors?!?!?!?!  Wonder how much they really spend on software, firmware, and hardware security???  Want to do a hack?!?!?!?!  Talk about getting a new identity.

    •  And they are selling it! eom (6+ / 0-)

      Be the change you want to see in the world. -Gandhi

      by DRo on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 05:56:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  This makes no sense (0+ / 0-)

      They are checking your answers against the data they already have. they are not accessing Social Security's data in any way.

      And although you probably don't know it, they have probably been providing this data to lots of companies you  transact with behind the scenes.

      If what you worry about is private companies having huge amounts of your personal identifying information , that horse left the barn a few decades ago.

      •  I know exactly what companies keep on their (5+ / 0-)

        records.  I've written some of the code to collect it.

        Experian is KNOWN to have an inordenant amount of data that is not correct.  It appears that they are setting up 'security' questions based upon THEIR data that a 'user' most likely would have to pay to get a copy of to even get a hint as to what type of data they have on you.  Now if the information that Experian has is incorrect, you're basically SOL because they don't give a damn about correcting any errors in their data that they may have about you.  Then, in order to get your SSA information, you have to figure out a way to get to the SSA office and wait and wait.....

        As another commenter stated... Experian is probably cross checking the SS numbers along with some other info - I would as a coder.

        Yes, I know that too damned many 'companies' have too damned much information about me.  That doesn't mean I have to like it.

        •  They're going to use this to update the adresses (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          nchristine, gooderservice

          phone numbers ect they've got on file for these folks.

          And we're going to pay them for doing that data mining.

          "I have often seen people uncivil by too much civility, and tiresome in their courtesy." Michel de Montaigne

          by JesseCW on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 11:33:09 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  makes no sense (0+ / 0-)

            First, you are not transmitting your address, and phone number to Experian. You are submitting that information to SSA. A major reason SSA needed to contract this function out is that they have no good way of updating their own address files. They had tens of millions of incorrect addresses on the social Security statements they mailed out. The only way they know is if you tell them.  By contrast Experian gets that data (presumably more accurately) every time you apply for a new CC, or buy a house, or sign up with a utility company.

            In order to authenticate you, the user has to match what Experian already has in their file. AS many have posted here, if you give the wrong answer you get kicked out. How does Experian gain any information form this? (Many of the screening questions in the authentication process can correctly be answered "none of the above").

            1. SSA can't get more accurate information about you without your help.

            2. If you go to their new personal web portal, you help SSA get more accurate information.

            but,
            3. SSA won't offer the web portal unless they have an authentication process they think works.

             

            •  When a person gives mostly right and a few wrong (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              nchristine, gooderservice

              answers, Experian just got a heads up that they need to double check their data base.

              We didn't create Social Security - and pay trillions into it - for the purpose of helping a shitty little outfit improve its databases.

              "I have often seen people uncivil by too much civility, and tiresome in their courtesy." Michel de Montaigne

              by JesseCW on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 12:07:14 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  asdf (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              gooderservice

              "the user has to match what Experian already has in their file."  

              And you can guarantee that the information they have is 100% accurate??

              As noted, by the SSA itself, they do share information with Experian.  I want to know what information exactly and for how long 'as required by law'.

              From their site, http://www.experian.com/....

                 Locate Hard-to-Find Individuals Fast using Social Security Search

                  Conducting a Social Security search is easy with Social Search, a powerful and cost-effective tool for tracking down a consumer when all other identifying information is outdated or incomplete. Social Search instantly matches and retrieves the latest consumer identification information reported on the input Social Security number from Experian's File OneSM database. Find people who have changed their names or moved without leaving a forwarding address with Experian's Social Security search logic.
                  Features and Benefits

                      Get instant, up-to-date consumer identifying information on different consumers with the same Social Security Number
                      Know your customers' latest addresses
                     Reveal inconsistencies on consumer-supplied information to assist in fraud detection
                      Backed by Experian's File OneSM database of more than 220 million credit-active consumers
                      Allows you to quickly conduct a Social Security search on up to 20 different Social Security numbers on an inquiry
                      Returns up to 10 consumers reported with a given Social Security number for a complete history
                      Offers two report types, full and partial, for clients with and without a Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) permissible purpose
                      Add-on options available

              http://www.ssa.gov/....
                 We may use an external authentication service provider, Experian, to help us verify your identity.

                  We verify your information against our records. Experian verifies your information against its records.

                  We will not share your Social Security number with Experian.

                  Experian will only keep the information we share for the period of time required by federal laws, regulations, or guidelines.

              If you really believe that last item..... I've got some beach front property in Nevada for sale.
            •  And as some people reported (0+ / 0-)

              sometimes if you give the RIGHT answer you get kicked out but if you give the WRONG answers you get in.

              I'm not worried about Experian getting my SS data. But this was a very frustrating experience. I was asked questions based on out-of-date data and had to give them wrong answers when the correct answers were rejected.  And there were questions I could not have answered because I no longer have the information - i.e., old phone numbers I no longer recognize, accounts for which all the paper has been shredded. I spent hours loading archived Quicken files looking for the information, but my files didn't go back far enough - and that meant they were asking me for the account number of a credit card I haven't had for more than ten years. Luckily for me these particular questions were not asked the second time I tried.

              I think this is pretty cruel thing to do, especially to people who might not have the greatest memories. I still have all my marbles and I found it pretty upsetting. My mother would have called me in tears.

              We decided to move the center farther to the right by starting the whole debate from a far-right position to begin with. - Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay

              by denise b on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 11:09:49 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  That may be (and is), but it's certainly no (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gooderservice, JesseCW, DRo

        consolation to think that NOW we have these companies involved in our Social Security program.

        Mr. Mollie was one of the vets who had his information stolen from a stolen VA Dept laptop, and that's cost us enough hassle for a lifetime.  

        Don't need anymore problems due to government foul-ups, especially due to the handling of something as vital and important as Social Security, etc.  

        BTW, I'm a former federal employee.  That's one reason that I'm so worried, LOL!  And that's not said to discredit the workers themselves.  It's the unwieldly bureaucratic systems that are sometimes simply ridiculously inefficient, that I worry about.

        Mollie

        “If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

        by musiccitymollie on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 10:01:29 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  They are checking the data they already have (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tardis10, nchristine, gooderservice

        against your answers for accuracy, too.

        They've conned Social Security into wasting our money, but what's more, now tens of millions of people will have to confirm for Experian whether they've got the right address, phone number, ect.

        "I have often seen people uncivil by too much civility, and tiresome in their courtesy." Michel de Montaigne

        by JesseCW on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 11:31:56 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  T & R (18+ / 0-)

    This needs more eyes.

    Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth - Abraham Lincoln

    by Gustogirl on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 05:43:22 AM PST

  •  Cuts both ways a bit (18+ / 0-)

    I understand why it's so hard for the government to manage computer systems (google "FBI computer system")

    1980s Technology

    Even before the Sept. 11 attacks, the FBI had developed a plan, Trilogy, to address its chronic technology problems. The program was made up of three main components: a new computer network, thousands of new personal computer stations and, at its heart, the software system that would come to be known as VCF.

    The FBI wanted its agents to work in a largely paperless environment, able to search files, pull up photos and scan for information at their own PCs. The old system was based on fusty mainframe technology, with a text-only "green screen" that had to be searched by keywords and could not store or display graphics, photos or scanned copies of reports.

    What's more, most employees had no PCs. They relied instead on shared computers for access to the Internet and e-mail. A type of memo called an electronic communication had to be printed out on paper and signed by a supervisor before it was sent. Uploading a single document took 12 steps.

    and then there's this...
    Like many government agencies, the bureau had been drained of much of its top talent as skilled managers left for the higher salaries and reduced bureaucracy of the private sector. By 2001, when the VCF program was born, the FBI had few people in house with the expertise to develop the kind of sophisticated information technology systems that it would need. As a result, the agency had been turning increasingly to private contractors for help, a process that only hastened the flow of talent out the door at FBI headquarters.

    "In essence, the FBI has left the task of defining and identifying its essential operational processes and its IT concept of operations to outsiders," the NRC researchers concluded. "The FBI lacks experienced IT program managers and contract managers, which has made it unable to deal aggressively or effectively with its contractors."

    Daniel Guttman, a fellow at Johns Hopkins University who specializes in government contracting law, said: "This case just shows the government doesn't have a clue. Yet the legal fiction is that the government knows what it's doing and is capable of taking charge. The contractors are taking advantage of that legal fiction."

    So yes, I'd say the same thing is going down as SSA and that we all have good reason to be concerned.

    BTW I think the biggest damage conservatives and religious fundamentalists are doing is to continue to erect barriers to people with IT experience, because science = bad and they view computer professionals as witch doctors. My theory is that eventually the folks from IT will be running the government, but it may take decades judging by stories like this one.

  •  This: (16+ / 0-)
    without a Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) permissible purpose
    means they are selling protected data!   A BFD!!!

    Anyone know how to get this to Elizabeth Warren?

    Be the change you want to see in the world. -Gandhi

    by DRo on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 05:48:41 AM PST

  •  This is really rather alarming (18+ / 0-)

    since Experian has had so many data-riddled errors in credit card reports. They should not have been given the bid.

  •  Certain things should never be left in the hands (27+ / 0-)

    of the private sector. This is one of them.

    “In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.” Terry Pratchett

    by 420 forever on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 07:04:16 AM PST

  •  Nothing could go wrong here. (27+ / 0-)

    Due to a clerical error somewhere, my wife's social security was transposed somewhere on a credit check with a woman who happened to have the same last name.

    Never mind that the first name and maiden name did not match.

    Never mind that the addresses of my wife and the other person were never the same.

    So when we applied for credit to purchase an investment property, my wife was told by the mortgage broker that they could not process anything until the credit with Experian was cleared. He informed us that she was deceased. Dead.

    Yes, he was talking to her on the phone when he informed her of this information, and I took it as some sort of funny joke (funny strange, not funny ha ha) when she told me she had passed on. But this was real. Her credit was ruined because someone had linked my wife with this other woman who not only didn't have good credit, but had not been paying her bills. because she was dead.

    We could not get through to Experian. The 'are you who you say you are' tests included addresses of the other person, who we never knew. Three strikes, OUT! Please call this number to talk to a representative if you think this is a mistake.

    So we called. Menu hell. Every time we actually got to a person and explained the story we were given a number to call. It was the same number we had called to get through the menu and get this person. Experian has no email to send to, no address to send appeals to. (at least on their website). All they gave was a phone number that kept us on a hamster wheel of menus. It was Groundhog Day every time we called.

    After a week of my wife constantly trying to take care of this herself, including taking a personal day from work so she could sit on hold all day, we talked to our real estate agent, who hooked us up with a credit restoration guy. For $250 he could help us.

    Two Hundred Fifty Dollars to pay someone who apparently has a direct line to Experian. It was magical. He cleared everything up in about 3 days, and we have documentation that not only is my wife NOT this other person, but she is alive. Really. We had to submit this paperwork at the closing for the property. How strange is it to submit paperwork stating that "I am alive, despite what my faulty credit report says."?

    What about my $250? I'm sure somewhere there is legal recourse to be pursued. Anyone want to spot me the ten grand it would probably cost to take this to court?

    And the whole thing occurred because someone transposed the two digits at the end of a SS number when entering them for a credit check.

    So yeah, I'm not super exited that now Experian can F**k up credit reports AND Social Security data.

    •  Experian has no access to Social Security data (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wader, FG

      They were hired to verify identity based on their own records. If they are bad at that then the worst that happens is you have to go down to an SSA office and verify your identity in person. That is inconvenient, but if anything this is the Social Security Administration weighing security much higher than convenience.

      •  weighing security theater (16+ / 0-)

        much higher than our convenience and for Expierian's benefit. I'm sorry, but this should not be handed over to a private firm with a track record like Experian has.

        I shave my legs with Occam's razor~

        by triv33 on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 08:09:02 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Sure, if you have a car that works well and (10+ / 0-)

        you are still able to drive.  Not to mention being willing to spend an entire day or two waiting in the SSA office which could be impossible if you have diabetes (no food or drink allowed so no insulin cooler either) or other medical conditions that prevent you from sitting in a chair for 6 hours without anything to eat or drink.

        You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

        by Throw The Bums Out on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 08:32:16 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  So what is your alternative? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          FG, DRo

          If Social Security offered online access to your earnings record based on you typing in your social security number, date of birth, and place of birth and that turned out to be insecure how would you feel?

          The last thing SSA wants is for you to clog up their phone lines and/or waiting rooms.

          The whole point of getting this stuff to work online is precisely to avoid the inconvenience of having to visit the office, which is why you have to have some adequate solution for providing security for people's private information.  

          Perhaps SSA takes this too seriously. After all, just a couple years ago they put all this information in plain white envelope and mailed it to you.

          •  mailed it to you (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            fuzzyguy, gooderservice, poligirl, JesseCW

            through what? A private company or the United States Postal system?

            I shave my legs with Occam's razor~

            by triv33 on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 09:31:45 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Does it matter? Mail is not exactly the most (0+ / 0-)

              secure thing in the universe. And it has nothing to do with USPS. People can just pick a mailbox.

              •  ? (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                DRo, poligirl, JesseCW, gooderservice

                Um, let me explain. I'm saying that it is one US government agency (SS) handing my info to another US government entity (USPS) instead of Johnny Fly-By-Night bike messenger. You seem to be saying it doesn't matter a tinker's damn either way, that the mail might as well be Johnny-Fly-By-Night, but that's not the point, that's a whole 'nother kettle of fish, and I'm not here to talk about fish. I'm talking about my government info not being outsourced to a private company.

                I shave my legs with Occam's razor~

                by triv33 on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 10:20:36 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

          •  If SSA can't create a secure web site, they have (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            triv33, gooderservice, poligirl

            no business being around.

          •  Do you work for Experian? (6+ / 0-)

            From your posts above, are you saying that Experian is the only online authentication available to the Soc Sec admin?

            Does Experian handle all of the authentication for banks, utilities, and other business transactions that are done online?

            The banks have a stranglehold on the political process. Mike Whitney

            by dfarrah on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 09:42:38 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  No, I don't work for Experian or SSA (0+ / 0-)

              If you think Experian is a lousy company to do this then you should tell us who does it better.

              I have no idea about that.

              But whether Experian has errors in their database, or they choose too many unreliable questions as the basis to verify who you are, it has nothing to do with some private company getting access to your social security records. It has nothing to do with the government collecting additional data they have no business collecting.

              If everyone had retina scanners in their home, and the government had a database of everyone's retina the answer would be easy.

              Alternatively, you could suggest SSA lower it's security standards.

              •  ok, i will tell ya. let's take a little of the... (8+ / 0-)

                drone money, or DoD money and make SS's system secure instead of farming it out to a company that known for fuckups.

                but don't tell me the gov't can't do it. they can and they should. period. this is one of those jobs that gov't should be the only one doing.

                There’s a word for the people who keep complaining that the “ideologues” are getting in their way: Lobbyists. ~ RJ Eskow

                by poligirl on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 11:07:54 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  going further, i want to see the competitive... (6+ / 0-)

                bid records for this contract, if there indeed was one or if Experian didn't just grease some wheels to get it, no bid necessary.

                if it was a no bid situation, we need to stop that bullshit - that's on the level of Dick fucking Cheney/Halliburton crap and i expect this gov't to do a LOT better than that.

                There’s a word for the people who keep complaining that the “ideologues” are getting in their way: Lobbyists. ~ RJ Eskow

                by poligirl on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 11:10:03 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  Well, I did ask (6+ / 0-)

                who provides the authentication for other online services.  

                I bank online.  Does experian handle all the banks?  I pay electric, phone, internet, water, and credit cards online.  Does experian handle all of those, too?  And I have a couple of retirement accounts at different trustees--does experian handle those?

                You make it sound like experian is the only game in town, so I was just asking.

                The banks have a stranglehold on the political process. Mike Whitney

                by dfarrah on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 11:10:47 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  The California DMV can do their own on-line (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  gooderservice

                  verification.

                  The IRS can verify me and process my lil' 1040 EZ over the phone.

                  The EDD can handle my UI application on-line all by themselves like big kids.

                  But not Social Security.  They need Experian.

                  "I have often seen people uncivil by too much civility, and tiresome in their courtesy." Michel de Montaigne

                  by JesseCW on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 11:41:15 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  SSA takes applications online already (0+ / 0-)

                    They are using Experian to authenticate people for an on-going suite of services organized under the MySSA web portal. E.g. access to your earnings history  This is not the same as applying for benefits online which you can do now without the Experian verification screen.

                     There is no argument that SSA is a very conservative organization that has primarily provided in-person service for 75 years. They are slow in getting to the new world. They are deathly afraid of compromising personal data, especially online. Less so than mailing a check to the wrong person, frankly.

          •  Well letting people at least have something to (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            gooderservice

            drink so they can take their medication would help.  Not to mention oh, actually calling people back like they promise to?

            You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

            by Throw The Bums Out on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 10:10:27 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Why do you care whether or not Experians (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gooderservice

        scam is ended?

        Why the hell would a person devote this much time and energy to making sure a filthy company manages to successfully profiteer from Social Security?

        It doesn't make any sense.

        "I have often seen people uncivil by too much civility, and tiresome in their courtesy." Michel de Montaigne

        by JesseCW on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 11:37:46 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Filthy company is an understatement, but (0+ / 0-)

          point well made.

        •  I have been pretty clear (0+ / 0-)

          SSA does not give Experian access to Social Security data as the diarist claimed. If they did that would be a major scandal.

          SSA is not the one asking you how old your house is? Social Security does not maintain that information about you (they don't even know if you are married for chrissakes). If they did that would be a major scandal.

          If the public believes either of those things then they may not use the online services as readily as they might otherwise, which is a bad thing. It will cost, SSA, taxpayers, beneficiaries, and future beneficiaries time and money just as the workload of SSA is skyrocketing. It's part of my job to make sure people understand how Social Security does and does not work.

          I could care less if Experian is the one who provides online authentication. It could be some other company. It could be some other government agency. Sure let's let the NSA or the FBI do it.

          I would have thought SSA would have decided that they had the  ability to do this themselves. Years ago. They don't agree. They feel like they need a much higher level of security verification. Primarily because their address information sucks. But also because they got hammered by Congress the first time they tried to put the PEBES online (in 1998 or so I think). They more concerned about screwing up, than they are leading the pack into the future.

          Sure, I'd be happier if we could change the law to allow IRS to give SSA address data. That would solve most of the problem.

          The truth is that the culprit here is SSA"s culture of modernization, not some corporate conspiracy to scam profits out of the unsuspecting masses.

          •  Social Security is requiring YOU to give Experian (0+ / 0-)

            information in order to access your own information.

            That's the issue.

            It's been explained again and again and you keep sidestepping.

            Providing information and cash to Experian is a bad thing.  

            Raising hell and forcing the SSA to change is a good thing.

            Don't tell me you're against when I see you spending so much of your time supporting it.  That kind of doublespeak just destroys your credibility.

            "I have often seen people uncivil by too much civility, and tiresome in their courtesy." Michel de Montaigne

            by JesseCW on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 01:56:19 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Use small claims court, no lawyers and no (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      StrayCat, gooderservice

      bullshit like in regular court.  And yes, you can add the small claims court cost (which is probably less than $50) to the amount you are seeking.

      You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

      by Throw The Bums Out on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 08:29:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's interesting to read this (15+ / 0-)

    Last week I tried to get a Social Security benefit estimate and had to log in. Among the security questions the ssa.gov website asked me was how many bedrooms were in my house.  Odd, I thought. I answered correctly and it locked me out, saying I couldn't attempt to log in for some period of time (I forget how long).

    I later recalled that somewhere "out there" in public records is incorrect information about the number of bedrooms in my house.  Zillow has it wrong, for example.  I suspect there's a common source to this error.

  •  More piratization of public property, in this (13+ / 0-)

    case, information. We need to reverse this trend.

    "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

    by Lily O Lady on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 07:41:38 AM PST

  •  Recommended, But (16+ / 0-)

    Here are the details of the data-sharing agreement with Experian:

    http://www.ssa.gov/...

    We may use an external authentication service provider, Experian, to help us verify your identity.

    We verify your information against our records. Experian verifies your information against its records.

    We will not share your Social Security number with Experian.

    Experian will only keep the information we share for the period of time required by federal laws, regulations, or guidelines.

    We will not keep the information that Experian provides us.

    Experian may use information from your credit report to help verify your identity; this may result in what is known as a “soft inquiry” on your Experian credit report.

    Your Experian credit report will show an inquiry by the Social Security Administration with our address and the date of the request.

    Soft inquiries do not affect your credit score, and you do not incur any charges related to them.

    Soft inquiries are displayed in the version of the credit profile viewable only to consumers and are not reported to lenders.

    The soft inquiry will not appear on your credit report from Equifax or TransUnion, and generally will be removed from your Experian credit report after 25 months.

    Once you have registered for an online account, you will not generate additional soft inquiries by logging in to access our services.

    The claim is that no SS data is actually shared with Experian. They are using it as an authentication service.

    All the same, I don't like it:

    Experian has a HORRIBLE record for compliance with the Fair Credit act and with privacy standards for individuals.

    Moreover, the privatization aspect of this makes me nervous as well. Though, admittedly, hiring full-time security experts to create and maintain an authentication system for U.S. government services would take a lot of time, effort and money. Still ... this makes me uncomfortable.

    "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

    by bink on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 08:03:28 AM PST

    •  I'd say that defining "data" is (9+ / 0-)

      akin to Clinton defining sex. (feel free to insert your favorite modern world/genie/bottle reference here)
      From their site, http://www.experian.com/....

      Locate Hard-to-Find Individuals Fast using Social Security Search

      Conducting a Social Security search is easy with Social Search, a powerful and cost-effective tool for tracking down a consumer when all other identifying information is outdated or incomplete. Social Search instantly matches and retrieves the latest consumer identification information reported on the input Social Security number from Experian's File OneSM database. Find people who have changed their names or moved without leaving a forwarding address with Experian's Social Security search logic.
      Features and Benefits

          Get instant, up-to-date consumer identifying information on different consumers with the same Social Security Number
          Know your customers' latest addresses
         Reveal inconsistencies on consumer-supplied information to assist in fraud detection
          Backed by Experian's File OneSM database of more than 220 million credit-active consumers
          Allows you to quickly conduct a Social Security search on up to 20 different Social Security numbers on an inquiry
          Returns up to 10 consumers reported with a given Social Security number for a complete history
          Offers two report types, full and partial, for clients with and without a Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) permissible purpose
          Add-on options available

      "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

      by tardis10 on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 08:27:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  So, perhaps Experian has a decent record of (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nchristine

      maintaining security and is nimble enough to offer a system that can then pass you through to the government's SS site.

      I'm hoping this is because they found it lower cost and higher reliability to go this vendor route, rather than simply another private company outsourcing due to the misguided notion that government is best offered in piece parts to the lowest bidders.

      "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

      by wader on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 08:37:05 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Another Idea (9+ / 0-)

        The three credit bureaus is under constant litigation for violating the Fair Credit act, for not maintaining adequate security, privacy, etc. So, I dunno -- I can't imagine that the government is choosing Experian because they are especially reliable.

        My guess is that, because of the vast amounts of data that Experian attempts to collect on each of us -- and not always successfully or accurately -- it simply has a much larger pile of potential "security questions" that it can ask users to repsond to than the government would be able to costruct, given the legal limits on the ability of government to collect data on us.

        My preference here is:

        I would like to be able to go directly to SSA.gov and log in to view my benefits information securely and privately without a private company acting as the intermediary.

        Maybe the SSA felt that they could not provide this service without somehow circumventing the limits that we have put on it for collecting our personal data.

        Tricky subject.

        "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

        by bink on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 08:43:06 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Typos (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wader, poligirl

          Bureaus is = bureaus are, etc.

          "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

          by bink on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 08:43:52 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  This exactly correct (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mmacdDE

          Frankly SSA does not have very valuable information about you (at least not compared to what google, and facebook, and Amazon, and VISA, and Experian have). They have your earnings record, that is about it.

          But, for example,is the kind of problem that keeps them up at night:

          A divorced, or soon to be divorced spouse who knows all the information SSA could ask you about gets online and accesses your current earnings data for the purposes of some legal proceedings.

          An abusive spouse access the records of an abused spouse (who has fled to a location that the abuser does not know) for the purpose of acquiring a current address.

          They are very, very cautious about security, because if they screw up they don't get to just apologize. Congress comes down on them like a ton of bricks.

          •  i take issue with this part... (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JesseCW, nchristine, DRo, gooderservice
            They are very, very cautious about security, because if they screw up they don't get to just apologize. Congress comes down on them like a ton of bricks.
            I haven't seen Congress come down on anyone like a ton of bricks save for a tongue lashing. at this point, i'm hesitant to even define Congressional Oversight as oversight. What's Congress gonna do when if they screw up - give them a talking to and send them to bed without dinner? a million dollar fine? are those things really punishment to big business?

            There’s a word for the people who keep complaining that the “ideologues” are getting in their way: Lobbyists. ~ RJ Eskow

            by poligirl on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 11:48:26 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Nothing Experian is doing would stop this (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            nchristine, DRo
            A divorced, or soon to be divorced spouse who knows all the information SSA could ask you about gets online and accesses your current earnings data for the purposes of some legal proceedings.

            An abusive spouse access the records of an abused spouse (who has fled to a location that the abuser does not know) for the purpose of acquiring a current address.

            "I have often seen people uncivil by too much civility, and tiresome in their courtesy." Michel de Montaigne

            by JesseCW on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 11:50:56 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Wait - how is Experian going to verify (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bink, fuzzyguy, gooderservice, poligirl

      your identity? Particularly if SS doesn't provide them with your SS number? I must be missing something.

      "If you trust you are not critical; if you are critical you do not trust" by our own Dauphin

      by gustynpip on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 09:02:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ayup (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tardis10, nchristine, fuzzyguy, mmacdDE

        Weird, hunh?

        There are several ways to do this that I can think of.

        Note first that this arrangement doesn't prevent Experian from sharing Social Security numbers back to government. So, Experian might verify your identity and send a Social Security number back to the SSA. If the two numbers match, you're in. If not, tough luck.

        "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

        by bink on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 09:07:53 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, it is based on your SS number (0+ / 0-)

        They already have that.

        We decided to move the center farther to the right by starting the whole debate from a far-right position to begin with. - Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay

        by denise b on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 11:20:48 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Why do you say this: (6+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bink, DRo, nchristine, tardis10, poligirl, JesseCW
      The claim is that no SS data is actually shared with Experian.
      When you quoted this:
      Experian will only keep the information we share for the period of time required by federal laws, regulations, or guidelines.
      What information is the SSA sharing?
    •  Good detail on this (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DRo, musiccitymollie

      But the whole deal still gives me the heebie-jeebies. Experian has a terrible reputation and I've had first-hand experience. I do not trust them to maintain that data sequester any more than I trust them not to model the number of "soft" inquiries on your account.

      All the 3 majors (and a few shadow aggregators that show up from time to time) are adept at creating new "products" that successfully skirt attempts at fair regulations and accountability. Your actual credit records are regulated and can theoretically be repaired by a set appeal and correction process.  Your magic "credit score" is an unknown, un-fixable and appeal-able thing, since it is new and not regulated. I'm sure everyone agrees that credit scores don't need review because they're always correct. :P

      After a cascading series of errors by Bank of America, compounded by egregious errors by Experian (wrong address, work, cars, 5x duplicated credit card info, release of a tax error mis-recorded as an unpaid lien, etc. - 25 pages worth...) damaged my credit for years - I don't trust them under any circumstances. All had errors when I figured out what was happening, but Experian was worse by an order of magnitude! So, yes - I may be a bit hyper-sensitive to this particular company.

      I don't know the details of their agreement, but I think it is an inappropriate and troublesome arraignment that needs far more transparency and explanation. That was the point of this quick diary ... and I haven't heard anything all day (including the odd SS defender...?) that makes me feel less concerned.

      "Curiouser and curiouser!"

      by TechBob on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 10:02:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Haven't been able to see on of my reports (7+ / 0-)

    for years...they keep asking me to ask them to send me a form to send back to them to access my information even though the other 2 have no problems with verification...

    not sure which one it is...but I basically gave up...credit reporting services are horrific

    "Small Businesses Don't Build Levees" - Melissa Harris Perry

    by justmy2 on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 08:10:11 AM PST

  •  I always call SS on the phone. (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    triv33, wader, DRo, StrayCat, slinkerwink

    Eff the intertubes.

    I ♥ President Obama and have his back.
    Hands off SocSec, Medicare and Medicaid. NO subsidies to rich Corps.
    Rich pay more, bloated DoD steal less. End war on Afghanistan 01/01/14.

    by OleHippieChick on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 08:17:11 AM PST

    •  Takes forever to get through (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      StrayCat, Aquarius40, JesseCW

      the phone tree.  Can't really do that during office hours for many people (and hold a job).

      Be the change you want to see in the world. -Gandhi

      by DRo on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 08:53:29 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, for instance, (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DRo, JesseCW

        I just got the wackiest 1099 ever from SS. I called my local SS office, number on back of all correspondence, and it was like 5 seconds to get a human. Press "O." They could not figure out my problem but will call me back.

        I ♥ President Obama and have his back.
        Hands off SocSec, Medicare and Medicaid. NO subsidies to rich Corps.
        Rich pay more, bloated DoD steal less. End war on Afghanistan 01/01/14.

        by OleHippieChick on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 08:59:03 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  They won't call you back. It seems like all of (0+ / 0-)

          those offices have a policy where if they can't call you back by the end of the day they won't call you back ever.  NEVER accept an offer for them to call you back.

          You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

          by Throw The Bums Out on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 09:10:24 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Don't be pessimistic. They do call back. Plus, (0+ / 0-)

            I have the name of the local SocSec person, the place is a 15-minute drive from my house, I'll bring my lunch and a book if necessary until I get what I want.

            I ♥ President Obama and have his back.
            Hands off SocSec, Medicare and Medicaid. NO subsidies to rich Corps.
            Rich pay more, bloated DoD steal less. End war on Afghanistan 01/01/14.

            by OleHippieChick on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 10:30:20 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  How exactly do you do that? Most SSA offices (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              JesseCW, DRo

              have a "no food or drink" policy and will search people to enforce it.  And no, they won't even let you have a cup of water to take any medication with.

              You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

              by Throw The Bums Out on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 10:51:10 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Well, I'll just drug up and bring a book. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                shigeru

                Bringing the lunch is now metaphorical.
                We have to take a number and wait unless there's an appointment, but it goes fairly quickly.
                Don't know why you seem to be on a crab today?!?!?

                I ♥ President Obama and have his back.
                Hands off SocSec, Medicare and Medicaid. NO subsidies to rich Corps.
                Rich pay more, bloated DoD steal less. End war on Afghanistan 01/01/14.

                by OleHippieChick on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 11:19:48 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

          •  If you contact them, and they don't respond (0+ / 0-)

            or give you some bull answer that doesn't make sense, contact your Congressperson and Senators.

            If they're even remotely adequate, even if only one of them is, SS will call you back and resolve the problem.

            Usually pretty quickly.

            SS is a federal agency. One of the major jobs of your federal reps is to help you when you hit a snag.

            As long as it's of the 'hey, I'm trying to do X, and they're giving me a hassle' or 'hey, I don't want to do X and they're giving me a hassle' you should get a response from your reps and some help.

            As long as what you're trying to do or not do is legal, give them a call, drop them an email, or write them a letter.

            Granted, I haven't done this for a while (luckily), but every time I have I've gotten great response and help.

            And whatever the problem was never happened again.

  •  Oh fuck. (9+ / 0-)

    I tried to access the website before the first of the year, and got locked out as I guessed at a question about the year (over 14 years ago) that I got a credit card. I have not tried to access it since then.
    We are fucked.

    Only thing more infuriating than an ignorant man is one who tries to make others ignorant for his own gain. Crashing Vor

    by emmasnacker on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 08:20:41 AM PST

  •  The personal, private info ("PPI") business... (16+ / 0-)

    ...realities are, actually, a huge oxymoron. Very simply, NOTHING IS "PERSONAL" OR "PRIVATE" THESE DAYS. PERIOD! (NOTE: I'm very much in this business. And, for a variety of reasons, the truth is, it's grossly underregulated, and it has been for a long time.) Anyone, from an employer, to a lawyer to a private detective (depending upon the state) may access virtually everything there is to know about you, and roughly half the time (and this is being very conservative), there's significantly inaccurate information in those files, to boot.

    On top of that, with everyone posting their life's story and "deep thoughts" online these days, external databases, covered by very little law (which hasn't caught up the technology, as has been the case, all along; and, even when it does attempt to catch up with the technology, occasionally, it's very poorly implemented--re: just look at Experian, Equifax and Trans Union, as primary examples of this greater truth) are providing far greater dimensions via public-private info databases.

    This is growing by leaps and bounds, down to day-to-day activities, like what discerning what type of driver you are--since insurance co's are now placing monitoring devices in cars, following every mile of your travels, how often you exceed the speed limit, and so forth. (Progressive Insurance, State Farm and many others are now touting this, and offering initial "discounts" to entice the public to participate in this Orwellian travesty; because E-Z Pass simply isn't intrusive enough!)

    On top of this, large lenders, insurance co's and other firms are now testing a variety "data-related technologies," most of which are even more intrusive and in CLEAR violation of existing laws--from facial recognition in retail environments, i.e.: walk into a store, and they'll know everything about you in a split-second; large lenders are pulling your files from their massive databases without your knowledge, giving conditional credit approvals on the spot in real-time, etc., etc., without even having your authorization to do that.

    Here's another:  health insurance companies are in R&D mode on analyzing your genealogical disposition for disease/illness. This isn't discussed outside of secure corporate environments; but it IS happening, based upon firsthand reports I've received within the industry. It's all "proprietary," and it's not being deployed (perhaps, because it's illegal..go figure!) in the marketplace, today. (Think of the movie: "Gattica.")

    One more thing/reiterating, everything/much of what I'm stating, above, is not completely based upon publicly-available info, but (in some instances) upon my FIRSTHAND, personal/professional observations and knowledge. (I have done some blogging about this, generally speaking, in the past. I expect that I'll be doing more, going forward. I could name the large, well-known firms involved here--even the names of the folks/employees/contractors at those firms actually DOING this work--but it's not appropriate for a comment in a blog; and I really don't want to have my ass sued to the max, thankyouverymuch!)

    In summation, if there's significant money to be made deploying data technology -- without any respect whatsoever as far as its legality is concerned -- you can bet your ass it's, at the very least, being tested behind closed doors in corporate America, these days!

    And, based upon (again) FIRSTHAND/COMPLETELY FACTUAL knowledge, that's the way it is on January 23rd, 2013.

    "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

    by bobswern on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 08:32:57 AM PST

  •  That's exactly what I experienced. (10+ / 0-)

    "What year was your credit card opened?  Was it 25 years ago, or 23 years ago, or 15 years ago, or ....

    My credit union didn't even know.  Hardly surprising;  they switched it from Mastercard to Visa some years back.  I'm supposed to keep in mind when I opened a credit card account from back in the 80s?  JFC.

    Plus, my reaction was a large dose of "WTF?".  Why does the SS have all that info anyway?

    I am become Man, the destroyer of worlds

    by tle on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 08:48:09 AM PST

  •  What was the legislation that made this (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gooderservice, JesseCW

    law?

    Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

    by k9disc on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 08:49:14 AM PST

  •  Experian exists to make a profit. It's problematic (15+ / 0-)

    when public services, which should be carried with the motive to serve the public, are handed over to private, for-profit entities.

    The different mission always skews the management of the service.

  •  I just went to SSA.GOV site (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TravnTexas

    and set up my account. I was never redirected anywhere and all of the data that I entered was on a secure SSA site. Not sure I know what this diarist is talking about.

    He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man...Dr. Johnson (HST)

    by mikeypaw on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 08:54:26 AM PST

    •  I did the same (0+ / 0-)

      just to put this to the test.  never redirected and not asked silly questions from years ago.  pretty straight forward, actually.

      •  Well, then you were lucky. Two of my questions (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        denise b

        reasonable regarding mortgage and car loans.

        But asking an address from twenty years ago, and what your car tag reads that hasn't been renewed in 3 years this April (but luckily not sold, and still available to me to look at) is rather ridiculous, in my opinion.

        But clearly, the sensible thing would have been to at least ask about a "current car tag."

        You were probably lucky.  Even the Social Security agent I spoke to earlier today admitted that he almost couldn't complete the registration due to the silly questions he was asked.

        I asked him if he got a "car tag" question.  He didn't, but he was asked an ancient address, older than mine by a number of years.  

        He acknowledged that they are having a problem with this security system throwing people out.  (I talked to him BEFORE I registered, and almost didn't even try, for fear that I would be locked out.)

        Mollie

        “If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

        by musiccitymollie on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 04:53:20 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  It doesn't annouce that you're at Experian, but (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nchristine

      you are transferred to the site.  My browser shows this in the bottom left-hand corner.  (Does for everything--banking, etc.)

      I registered within an hour of seeing your post earlier today.  [Again, there's not a big 'splash screen' that says Experian.  I simply watched my browser processing.]

      Mollie

      “If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

      by musiccitymollie on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 02:57:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Experian got my data mixed up (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tardis10, DRo, triv33, OldDragon, JesseCW, denise b

    with someone else who (presumably) had the same name. A few years ago when we were getting our mortgage they did the credit check with Experian and handed me a list of all the places I had lived. It included addresses in Albuquerque, a city I've never even visited. I can only assume there was someone else who shared my name living there and somehow our data were merged. I wonder if she'll get credit for my Social Security taxes.

  •  I've checked my credit history with the big three (11+ / 0-)

    credit rating agencies over years the and all three have had wrong or outdated information. I don't think they're qualified to verify anything.

    "The human eye is a wonderful device. With a little effort, it can fail to see even the most glaring injustice." Richard K. Morgan

    by sceptical observer on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 09:44:59 AM PST

  •  At 68 I can no longer remember some of this (8+ / 0-)

    stuff.  I had this happen to me over six months ago and no one explained to me what was going on.  and the phone run around was horrendous.

    Now that I understand this I have to drive 30 miles to a SSA office.  This is very bad for many of the people the SSA is supposed to serve.

    •  You can try again (0+ / 0-)

      I just got in on my second try by giving some strategic incorrect answers (see my comment further down).

      You can get your free credit report from Experian and use the information on it to help answer the questions. I had an old one saved and it helped.

      I wasn't about to put myself through trying to phone or going there; when I couldn't get in the first time, I decided I would just do without online access. I forgot about it until I saw this diary.

      We decided to move the center farther to the right by starting the whole debate from a far-right position to begin with. - Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay

      by denise b on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 09:28:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Experian has been doing this for years (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fuzzyguy, nchristine, triv33, DRo, tardis10

    I sat through an all day presentation back in 2006 from Experian geared toward NSA and CIA on data integrity and data mining for identity verification.

    It was scary then and that was 6 years ago, when I was still an underwriter for a government agency.

    They have been trying to sell their verification services for more than the 6 years I've known about it. There's also an OMB directive about verified users http://www.federalnewsradio.com/... Seems like Social Security went about 10 steps beyond the OMB Federal CIO requirements, but the goal is still the same, to use a 3rd party to do the verification and not the government.

  •  Oh, THAT explains it (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TechBob

    I too had the experience of failing to correctly answer some bizarre, obscure questions and being unable to get into my account.

    Some of the questions seemed to be based on out-of-date information - closed accounts, old mobile phone numbers, stuff like that. I tried to find the old account information but I don't have it anymore. The old phone number I couldn't remember - I'm old, right? I don't remember stuff like that. And now that I've downsized I don't keep old paper that I don't expect to need.

    I thought this whole thing was extremely strange and highly annoying.

    I sort of forgot about this. They said I could try again the next day, so I'm going to do that, and I'll report back on what the questions were.

    We decided to move the center farther to the right by starting the whole debate from a far-right position to begin with. - Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay

    by denise b on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 08:56:10 PM PST

    •  Get a load of this (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DRo, TechBob

      I was able to get in on my second attempt by changing some of my answers from the right ones to the wrong ones:

      Please select the range that includes the year the home was built for the address that you provided.

          1910 to 1919
          1920 to 1929
          1930 to 1939
          1940 to 1949
          NONE OF THE ABOVE

      Previously I answered "none of the above" because my current residence was built in 2002 (I have lived there for more than two years). This time I selected the age of my previous address. That worked.
      You currently or previously resided on one of the following streets. Please select the street name from the following choices.

          PRESQUE ISLE
          1ST
          ROMAN
          VETERAN
          NONE OF THE ABOVE

      Previously I answered "none of the above" because I never lived on any of these streets. This time I answered "1st" because six years ago I worked on 1st St.

      Luckily no questions about former cell phone numbers, because I still couldn't answer that.

      Experian and the other credit agencies have all sorts of old and incorrect information, don't know what's old and what's current, and then ask these confusing questions. Nice way to torture people.

      Fortunately, the fact that Experian has my named spelled wrong was not a problem. I've never been motivated to have them correct it before, but I suppose it's a good idea. Who knows what their database might be used for next?

      We decided to move the center farther to the right by starting the whole debate from a far-right position to begin with. - Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay

      by denise b on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 09:23:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The only reason I new about "Question Roulette" (0+ / 0-)

      was from last dealings with Experian. I hate to have such a negative view of one particular company (all credit reporting agencies seem pretty mediocre from a business practices standpoint) - but Experian has been in a class by itself.

      Fixing my last run-in with them required my full time attention, every day for 3 weeks to track down and document all their errors! In one instance I had to go to the microfilm court archives to find out why they thought I had a tax lien.  Turns out, it was a "release of tax lien" artifact due an internal clerical error I never even knew about. Experian found it somehow and recorded it in my record as a "tax lien".  Of course, it's YOUR responsibility to fix this (and check to see if they've made any other mistakes).

      At one point Experian couldn't figure out that a bank had changed names during "merger-mania" and had one credit card down 5 times with identical info.  This, of course, triggered a "fraud alert" and automatically set "universal default" (another lovely practice) into motion.  Nightmare City.

      True story: my "incident" started with some serious errors by Bank of America, though it took me a while to trace it to them.  When I did finally try to escalate and spoke to a regional supervisor after many hours of calling, she refused to help me and delivered this gem:

      "It's your responsibility to correct our errors."
      (sigh)

      "Curiouser and curiouser!"

      by TechBob on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 01:01:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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