E-Verify Enhancement Combats Identity Theft

On November 18, 2013, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a security enhancement to the E-Verify program that will help combat identity theft. This enhancement will allow E-Verify to identify fraudulent use of Social Security Numbers (SSNs), and lock the potential misused SSNs.

During the Form I-9 employment verification process, employees are required to provide their SSNs if their employers participate in E-Verify. E-Verify requires employers to input the employees’ I-9 information into its database which shares the information with the databases for USCIS, the branch of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security which issues immigration benefits, and the Social Security Administration to verify employment eligibility.

With this enhancement, E-Verify will use a combination of algorithms, detection reports, and analysis to identify SSNs that exhibit signs of fraudulent use. For example, a number that has been input into E-Verify multiple times by multiple employers in different geographic areas within a given period may trigger E-Verify to lock this number. The next time this locked number is entered into E-Verify, it will result in a Tentative Nonconfirmation (TNC). 

The employee receiving the TNC will be notified by email to contact a local Social Security office, if the employee has provided an email address on the I-9, and on the Further Action Notice (FAN), which the employer must deliver to the employee. The SSA officer will confirm whether the employee’s identity matches the SSN. Once confirmed, E-Verify will convert the employee’s status to “Employment Authorized.”  

Employers are reminded that they must notify the employee of the TNC by delivering a copy of the FAN. If the employee contests the TNC, the employer enters that information into E-Verify, which generates a Referral Data Confirmation (RDC). The employee must contact the SSA office by the date stated on the RDC. The employer may not take adverse action against the employee during this processing time, until E-Verify issues a Final Nonconfirmation (FNC).

This feature may inconvenience rightful holders of SSNs whose numbers are locked, but it will also alert them that their identities may have been stolen, and encourage them to contact law enforcement agencies. “This will also likely deter individuals from sharing their numbers with friends and family members who are not authorized to work in the United States,” commented Sherry Lin, staff attorney of MSEC’s Immigration Services. 

USCIS has not said when this enhancement will take effect or exactly how it will operate. MSEC will provide updates when more information becomes available. Contact Chris Bauer or Sherry Lin in Immigration Services at 1-800-884-1328 with questions.