We live at the time when the individual’s worth is measured by numbers. Every citizen, permanent resident and… the thief in the US has a Social Security number.
With this number you can get loans, credit, buy homes, get employed, etc. Without it-you are basically nothing. Even to rent an apartment you must present your Social Security number. I do not see a reason why, though, but this is what is being done.
There were times when the banks had “relationships” established with their customers. Now, you are just a number. Things used to be different.
During the 1930s Great Depression, the unemployment rate was 25%, thousands and thousands of banks had failed and the most effected population segment was the elder population. Prior to the Depression and during, there was only a small percentage of retired workers receiving employer sponsored pension plans. Most retired workers had no means of supporting themselves. Finally, after many attempts to introduce government sponsored retirement benefits, the Social Security Act was signed into a law in 1935. The first Social Security records and first Social Security Number cards were issued in mid November of 1936. By mid summer of 1937 millions of Social Security Records and cards were issued.
So what is the most misused, the most famous Social Security Number of all times? Number 078-05-1120, which belonged to Mrs. Hilda Schrader Whitcher. In 1938, Mrs. Whitcher’s employer, wallet manufacturer the E. H. Ferree company in Lockport, New York, had decided to market its product with a dummy SS card to demonstrate how it could nicely fit in the wallet. The VP of the company thought that it would be a great idea to use an actual Social Security Number of his secretary, Mrs. Whitcher. The sample card, only half the size of the actual card, with Mrs. Whitcher’s number was printed all in red and was marked with the word “specimen”.
The wallets with that sample card were sold all over the US and many people have adopted the number 078-05-1120 as their own. To me, it is kind of funny. Perhaps, people thought by purchasing the wallet they automatically get the number. By 1943, over 5000 people were using Mrs. Whitcher’s number. Through the next few years over 40000 people reported this number as their own.
The Social Security Administration published various announcements advising people it was wrong to use someone else’s number, it didn’t work. Eventually, Mrs. Whitcher was given a different number. In later years Mrs. Whitcher said:
” They started using the number. They thought it was their own. I can’t understand how people can be so stupid. I can’t understand that.”
Although she became somewhat of a celebrity, the incident of her SSN misuse brought more inconvenience to her life than anything else.
Source: SS Administration