6

DoD Ditches All Visible SSNs From IDs

The days of seeing security numbers on military ID cards are quickly coming to an end, a story on Military.com reports.

DoD has been quietly issuing new ID cards sans SSN since June 1, the story says. Rather than display the full or even partial number, IDs display two alternate DoD ID numbers. One is a “general” ID number and the other is used specifically to claim and verify benefits. The full social security number is still embedded in the bar code on the back of the ID. Eventually officials plan to phase out the SSN as the ID of choice all together, using instead those new numbers.

The new IDs will be issued as old ones are lost or are within 30 days of expiring. Retirees, who have IDs with no expiration date, can retrieve a new card at any time. That means I’ll be suffering with my husband’s last four displayed for the world and my incredibly bad photo for the world to see until 2014. Fabulous.

But don’t go erasing that magic number sequence from your psyche just yet. The story isn’t long on details on how the new ID numbers were developed or how and when they’ll be widely used. I’d assume systems such as Tricare can’t switch to the new system until everyone is rolled into it. … and that could take a long time.

Dependents’ ID cards have been issued without the sponsor’s full number displayed since mid-2008, when the system switched to only displaying the “last four.” Until now, servicemembers still have had their full number displayed on the back of the card. Under the new system no ID card will visibly contain the number.

DoD officials at Fort Bliss said in the story that this is being done to reduce identity theft problems. Like the story says, we can hope that this cuts down on the problem. But until social security numbers aren’t tied to any aspects of the military the issue will likely remain front and center. This is true not just for active duty members, but, like I reported in June, for deceased ones as well.

About Amy Bushatz

Amy is the managing editor of Military.com’s spouse and family blog SpouseBuzz.com. A journalist by trade, Amy also covers spouse and family news for Military.com where she is an Associate Editor. An Army wife and mother of two, Amy has been featured as a subject matter expert on NPR and in the New York Times. Follow her on twitter @amybushatz.