Social Security Number Code Cracked, Study Claims
Researchers at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh could able to predict the social security numbers based on personal data like birth date.
For all the concern about identity theft, researchers say there's a surprisingly easy way for the technology-savvy to figure out the precious nine digits of Americans' Social Security numbers.
"It's good that we found it before the bad guys," Alessandro Acquisti of Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh said of the method for predicting the numbers.
Acquisti and Ralph Gross report in Tuesday's edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that they were able to make the predictions using data available in public records as well as information such as birthdates cheerfully provided on social networks such as Facebook.
For people born after 1988 — when the government began issuing numbers at birth — the researchers were able to identify, in a single attempt, the first five Social Security digits for 44 percent of individuals. And they got all nine digits for 8.5 percent of those people in fewer than 1,000 attempts.