Counterfeit Identification and Indentification Fraud Raise Security Concerns

GAO-03-1147T: Published: Sep 9, 2003. Publicly Released: Sep 9, 2003.

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Robert J. Cramer
(202) 512-7227


Office of Public Affairs
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This testimony summarizes some of our recent investigations that demonstrate security vulnerabilities that exist because counterfeit identification can be easily produced and used to create fraudulent identities. It is based in part on the recently issued restricted report Security: Vulnerabilities Found in Driver's License Applications Process. This also encompasses results from security tests we have performed over the past 3 years. These tests revealed security weaknesses at federal buildings and other facilities, airports and our nation's borders, and exposed identity fraud vulnerabilities in both the Social Security number (SSN) application process and in the administration of federal gun control laws. A number of these problems have been addressed by the responsible agencies.

In summary, we found that (1) government officials generally did not recognize the documents we presented as counterfeits, (2) some government officials failed to follow security procedures and were not alert to the possibility of identity fraud, and (3) identity verification procedures are inadequate. Our investigations revealed that homeland security is vulnerable to identity fraud and, unless action is taken, individuals who intend to cause harm can easily exploit these vulnerabilities. Additionally, identify fraud has a range of other consequences including potential fraud in voting, obtaining credit and federal benefits, and in many other areas.

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