How to Identify Fraudulent Social Security Cards

By Beth Rifkin

Updated September 26, 2017

A Social Security card often is one of the forms of identification that employees are required to show when starting a new job. Certain aspects of the card, such as the paper and the numbers, can help you to determine if the employee’s Social Security card is legitimate.

Name and Signature

Check to make sure that the employee’s name is spelled correctly, and is identical to that of his other forms of identification, such as a driver’s license or passport. A misspelled name can be easy to overlook since it seems so obvious. The word “Signature” and a line for the card holder to sign are printed across the bottom of the card; the Social Security card should be signed and the signature should match the employee’s other forms of identification.


Social Security numbers are nine digits long and are printed in a 3-2-4 format. The first three numbers represent a geographic area, the second two numbers are a group number and used to break up the sequence, and the last four digits represent a serial number. A sequence of zeros is never used -- for instance, you'll never see "0000" on a legitimate Social Security card -- and it is rare to see a sequence of any like number, such as 5555. Look at the numbers through a magnified lens; the printing of the numbers should be crisp, clear and in alignment, without any smudges or running ink.

Paper Stock

Since October 1983, the Social Security Administration has used paper with a blue tint marbleized random pattern. Within the pattern, the words “Social Security” are printed in white. The paper has a distinct feel to it due to intaglio printing, which makes the paper slightly rough to the touch. Planchettes, which are small multi-colored discs, are randomly placed throughout the paper.


If for any reason you feel that the employee’s Social Security card is fraudulent, contact the Social Security Administration to verify his Social Security number. Keep in mind that according to the Social Security Administration, employers do not have a legal right to require an employee to show you his Social Security card.