About the Social Security Number Trace

Hiring families may have questions about the Social Security Number trace they receive as a result of the pre-employment background check order they run on their nanny, housekeeper or care giver candidate. The following FAQ will assist in interpreting the report.

What is a social security trace?:

o A social security trace is a report that will return all current and reported addresses associated with a specific individual based on his or her social security number. If there are alternate names (aliases or also known as [AKA]) these are reported also. You should have a CONCERN if the name provided by the family to conduct the search does not match the name on file with the credit reporting agency.

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How do I read (interpret) the SSN trace report?

The SSN trace report is derived from credit bureau records and follows a standard format. The sources include applications for utilities (telephone, electric), credit checks for loans and/or credit cards, and qualification for rental agreements. Below please find an example. SSN VALIDATION provides the date and state where the SSN was issued.


SSN is valid. Issued in Florida - Issued in Year 195901960

Address Information

Personal Info Address Info Phone Info
03-23-1940 Aged: 65
OCALA, FL 98765-4321
1995 TO 2004
(Dual Name)
(Company Name)

Abbreviations are often associated with the results. They are:
CA = current address
FA = former address
FN = former name

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Why should we trace a social security number?

It is imperative to verity the information provided by a candidate concerning her identity and where she has lived. This is the foundation of a solid background investigation. By tracing the SSN history over 7 years, it is much more difficult for a candidate to hide her identity and possible criminal history. The SSN trace provides you the opportunity to cross check name and previous residence history as provided in the job application for possible inconsistencies.

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Why is there more than one name with the same social security number? Why does a different name show on the SSN trace results?

The most common reason for MULTIPLE names is that the individual got married or just changed their name entirely. Since a social security trace is based on the social security number only, it will report all recorded occurrences with a specific social security number. Occasionally a SSN trace will return a name (alias) that the family was not aware of when they placed the pre-employment background check order. The criminal records search was done only on the name(s) provided by the employer when the search was ordered. The employer is encouraged to order criminal records searches on all alias(es) This will incur additional costs but is the only way to thoroughly check the candidate's possible records.

Occasionally, the SSN Trace will report names or addresses unknown to the job applicant. These generally are simply records errors caused by faulty data entry. However, they may signify identity theft (even though this is rare). We encourage the applicant to request their free annual credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus in this situation.

Occasionally the SSN provided for the background report is simply incorrect. This could be transcription, a typographical error, or simply the candidate who does not have a valid SSN. If a different number needs to be searched other than that originally provided, additional fees will be incurred.

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What does it mean when no record is found?

Typically it will mean that the individual has very little or no credit history or the individual may be a recent immigrant to the country. Changes to US law in the last several years prevent individuals under 21 from applying for/receiving revolving credit accounts such as Visa and Mastercard so it is extremely common for these individuals to fall into this category. The credit reporting agencies can only verify that a number is a validly issued SSN. The US Department of Homeland Security's e-Verify system is one source that can absolutely verify the name/SS number match and this is only available to US employers (or their agents) and requires the Employer's Federal Employer Identification Number for e-Verify system enrollment. The US Department of Homeland Security began rolling out employee e-Verify Self Check in the summer of 2011. It is currently available to workers in 21 states (1-November-2011).

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Where does a social security trace come from?

A social security trace is built by utility companies, credit card companies, banks and a host of other private entities when they ask or even require a social security number before a new account can be opened. This information will then be reported to the three major credit bureaus, Trans-Union, Experian (formerly TRW) and CSC/Equifax. They will then record the SSN, along with an individual's identifying information in the top portion or "header" of credit reports. Unlike the full credit report itself, this information is made freely available and the subject is never notified that this information has been accessed. It is this data that is accessed when a social security trace is run.

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