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Compromised social security number

We did a background check on a person we want to hire and their social security number came back with a completely different name. This person is a US citizen but has lived out of the country for many years, so it is suspected his identity was stolen.

My payroll service says that if the SS# does not match then he cannot be paid as well as other problems with year end forms, etc.

Any thoughts?


  • You have to pay the employee (any employee) for time actually worked. The courts have made it very clear that invalid work status in no way gets the employer off this hook

    Past that, it has been too long since I have done this. I would say that you need to let the employee go, but it would be nice to know what state law had to say about it first. Maybe go to the ICE page and see what they have to say. I am pretty sure that federal law (IRCA) says you cannot employee anyone who you know has invalid work status.

  • Was this done through E-Verify? If so there are specific rules to follow.

    If not, personally I would put the hire on hold until he can clear up the SS card issue.

    Your payroll service is incorrect as David has said, if he has worked he MUST be paid. Now you and they might get a "mismatch" letter and a fine, but he must be paid.

    But the quickest way to clear this up is to have this person do so before working any hours.

  • Fired vs. suspended without further pay is more or less the same thing for most legal purposes. If the employee is really stealing someone else's ID information, I would lean towards firing but your call.

    Paying the employee for time worked is not an option. Just do it. And one way or the other, if you find yourself in a hole, STOP DIGGING. Any employee with fuzzy work status should immediately stop working. You are not required to be perfect, but you are expected to be reactive. Do not take a small problem and turn into a major problem.

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