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The Social Security Administration and Online Privacy

In March 1997, the Social Security Administration set up a web site to allow individuals to obtain their own Personal Earnings and Benefit Estimate Statement (PEBES) over the Internet. To receive a PEBES by email or on a display screen, users were asked to provide their name, social security number, date and place of birth, and mother's maiden name.

The SSA program came under criticism from those who said that it would be too easy for others to obtain illegally the PEBES records over the Internet.

On April 9, 1997 the SSA announced that it would suspend the online PEBES service and conduct more research on potential security problems. Individuals can still request their PEBES online. The report will be sent back by paper mail.

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