When you trace someone with their social security number you are actually looking up that number in one of three nationwide credit bureaus. The credit bureaus return what is known as a 'header' or the top of that persons credit report. This header contains the addresses reported by that consumer or reported by the companies the he/she obtains credit through.
Reported means many things in the case of a trace. Whenever the person fills out a charge card or loan application their address, date of birth and SSN are 'reported' to the credit bureaus when a credit reported is pulled. This address then becomes part of their file for future inquiries. Whenever the person makes a payment on a loan or credit card their information is compared against the addresses contained in the credit report and updated if necessary.
Another case of 'reporting' will happen when a loan or other obligation goes into collection. The company the person owes the debt to constantly reports any change of address they may find out to the credit bureaus.
Limitations of a SSN Trace
Because of the credit based nature of the data used for a SSN trace it is possible for no records to be found in the credit bureaus. If an individual choses never to use credit cards and does not have any loans/mortgages in their name then there is nothing to report to the credit bureaus.
There is also a time limit on the information stored, usually 7-8 years, that each entry is kept on a credit report. After the time limit data starts to get 'purged' from the report.
Addresses are listed by reported dates and these dates may not coincide with the actual dates of residence at that address. Consider the case of a loan that goes into collection, the credit granting company will continue to report the last known address in their files. Meanwhile another company reports a more current address. Depending on when the trace is done the most current reported address may be the one reported by the first company.
When a person dies all of there credit information is purged by the credit bureaus after a short time. If you are trying to trace someone by their SSN and are not getting any results then try tracing them in a death index such as the one listed on our free search page.
Exceptions to limitations
There are a few exceptions to be noted to the limitations mentioned above. A bankruptcy will continue to show addresses for up to 15 years as required by law.
It has been brought to our attention that one credit bureau is now keeping addresses in their files indefinately. They still purge the actual credit data but maintain an address list. This information is unverified at this time.
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Structure of a Social Security Number
The first three digits of the SSN are the area number. For numbers assigned prior to 1973, it indicates the specific Social Security office from which the card was issued. Since 1973, certain blocks of numbers have been allocated to each State. The area number indicates the State the number holder showed as his/her mailing address on the application for a number. The State is derived from the ZIP code in the mailing address.
The middle two digits are the group number and have no geographical significance. They just break the SSN into conveniently sized blocks for use in internal operations and order of issuance.
The last four digits are the serial number representing a straight numerical series of numbers from 0001-9999 within each group.
SSN's are not reassigned when people die. Benefits may be payable to dependents and survivors or the SSN holder long after the SSN holder dies. The SSN is used to administer the payment of these benefits. The current 9-digit number provides almost 1 billion SSNs. Roughly 367 million SSNs have been issued since 1936 through 1993, leaving almost two-thirds remaining for assignment.
In fiscal year 1993, a little over 16 million SSN cards were issued. Of this amount, approximately 6 million were original cards and 10 million were replacement cards.