GOP rep moves to end use of Social Security numbers as credit bureau ID

GOP rep moves to end use of Social Security numbers as credit bureau ID
© Greg Nash

Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) introduced new credit bureau cybersecurity legislation on Thursday that contains a provision to ban the use of Social Security numbers as a personal identifier at Equifax and other credit agencies. 

The Promoting Responsible Oversight of Transactions and Examinations of Credit Technology — or PROTECT — Act comes after a massive breach at Equifax that potentially affected as many as 143 million Americans. 

"The Equifax data breach has harmed my constituents in western North Carolina and Americans across the country," McHenry said in a written statement.

"It exposed a major shortcoming in our nation’s cybersecurity laws and Congress must act."

McHenry's legislation would forbid the use of Social Security numbers as credit bureau IDs in 2020.

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White House cybersecurity czar Rob Joyce has suggested replacing Social Security numbers with something that's more resilient and contains additional security measures. Those measures might include some form of authentication of the number, as well as the ability for potential identity fraud victims to change their ID. 

Social Security numbers are used as national identification codes in part because of they are compatible for use with credit bureaus.  

Other provisions in the PROTECT Act include a national framework for freezing accounts, standards for cybersecurity and on-site inspections.