Merit Credit Systems Updates Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion Access API for SSN Randomization

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New Rules for Social Security Numbers Affect Credit Report Services and Credit Retrieval Software

The Merit Credit Engine has been updated to full compliance with the new Social Security Number Randomization policy. As of July 7, 2011, the Social Security Administration (SSA) began issuing Social Security Numbers (SSN) in which the first three digits are effectively random. The identification numbers will no longer indicate the location (by state of issuance) of the SSN recipient.

Financial software is affected in several ways by changes in the SSN numbering scheme. First, it is no longer possible to use the first three digits for validity checking. SSNs that were previously invalid, due to fraud or typing errors, might now be valid. Thus, a message like "SSN is invalid" (flagging suspected fraud) could be wrong. Financial software systems that use such messages must be modified. The new message might, instead, indicate "Invalid or issued after July, 2011."

Similarly, software that attempts to test the credibility of a consumer's self-reported location by checking the SSN prefix will also go astray.

Another software issue relates to requesting testcase subject data from the credit bureaus. A required approach for third-party software and web service testing has been to use a list of fictitious names, provided by the credit bureaus, associated with Social Security numbers that could also be guaranteed to be fictitious because the digits were in an invalid range. Credit reporting agencies have had to revise their test data to avoid numbers that can now be considered valid.

Merit Credit Systems has updated its credit software to include the new approved wording for SSN exception messages, and has done extensive testing using all SSN ranges. To simplify the work of developers building and testing in-house and web-based identity verification and credit approval systems, Merit has also updated all consumer test case information with the new, approved SSNs.

About Merit Credit Systems

Merit Credit Systems (http://creditengine.net) is a leading provider of enterprise-level credit report software, simplifying direct access to credit information from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Merit also provides developer tools for XML credit reports and tri-merge capabilities as options for its Merit Credit Engine software.

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Lewis Rosenfelder
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