New 5/15/02

You are required to obtain a form I-9 and appropriate documentation when hiring new employees, and correct names and social security numbers (SSN) on W-2 wage reports are necessary to successfully process your annual wage report submissions and quarterly employment tax filing. You can be subject to penalties when employee names and SSNs don’t match Social Security Administration (SSA) records. Unmatched wage reports can result in additional processing costs for you, and earnings will not posted to your employees’ records. It seems recently that incorrect numbers are being given by hew hires, either through an innocent error or transposition of numbers, but perhaps by deliberate deception.

Social Security offers employers two convenient and free methods for verifying employee SSNs:

1) for up to 5 names/SSNs, call the SSA toll-free number, (800) 772-6270, weekdays from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. EST:

  • provide your company name and EIN, and
  • the following information for each name/SSN you want to verify:
    • 1.SSN,
    • 2. First name, middle initial and last name,
    • 3. date of birth, and
    • 4. gender; and

2) for up to 50 names/SSNs, submit a paper listing containing the above data to your local Social Security Office (some offices accept faxed listings). To verify over 50 names/SSNs, or for all requests submitted on magnetic media regardless of how many items you want verified, a simple registration process is required.
Further information is provided at the SSA web site at You can also find links to two useful guides on how SSNs are assigned and a list of number areas by State which can help you determine if numbers appear correct.

Furnishing an erroneous SSN is not a basis in and of itself for you to take any adverse action against the employee, such as laying off, suspending, firing, or discriminating against the employee. Company policy concerning the use of the verification should be applied consistently to all workers, e.g. all newly hired employees; or the entire employee database. Misuse may violate state or federal law and be subject to legal consequences. Moreover, this makes no statement about your employee’s immigration status. Knowingly furnishing a false ID may be grounds for dismissal in appropriate circumstances.