In November, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Alejandro Mayorkas announced an enhancement to the E-Verify program that will help combat identity fraud by identifying and deterring fraudulent use of Social Security numbers (SSNs) for employment eligibility verification.

According to USCIS, this enhancement provides a critical safeguard to the E-Verify system by detecting and preventing potential fraudulent use of SSNs to gain work authorization.  An employer, for example, may enter information into E-Verify that appears valid – such as a matching name, date of birth, and SSN – but was in fact stolen, borrowed or purchased from another individual.  This new safeguard now enables USCIS to lock a SSN that appears to have been misused, protecting it from further potential misuse in E-Verify.

“We are committed to strengthening E-Verify’s ability to combat identity fraud,” said Director Mayorkas. “This new enhancement provides yet another significant safeguard for E-Verify users and could assist employees who have had their Social Security numbers stolen or compromised.”

The new enhancement strengthens the E-Verify program by implementing standards that have proven effective in protecting individual identity.  Just like a credit card company will lock a card that appears to have been stolen, USCIS may now lock SSNs in E-Verify that appear to have been used fraudulently.  USCIS will use a combination of algorithms, detection reports and analysis to identify patterns of fraudulent SSN use and then lock the number in E-Verify.  This will help deter and prevent fraudulent use of SSNs in the E-Verify system.

If an employee attempts to use a locked SSN, E-Verify will generate a “Tentative Nonconfirmation” (TNC).  The employee receiving the TNC will have the opportunity to contest the finding at a local Social Security Administration (SSA) field office.  If an SSA field officer confirms the employee’s identity correctly matches the SSN, the TNC will be converted to “Employment Authorized” status in E-Verify.  Employees who successfully confirm their identities are encouraged to call USCIS so they can learn more about available resources on identity theft and fraud prevention.

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Alka Bahal is a Partner and the Co-Chair of the Corporate Immigration Practice of Fox Rothschild LLP.  Alka is situated in Fox Rothschild’s Roseland, New Jersey office though she practices throughout the United States and at Consulates worldwide. You can reach Alka at (973) 994-7800, or abahal@foxrothschild.com.