They’ve the identical identify. They had been born on the identical day in South Korea. They usually had been each assigned the identical Social Security quantity after they emigrated to america.
This bureaucratic bungle has bedeviled Jieun Kim, of Los Angeles, and Jieun Kim, who lives simply outdoors Chicago in Evanston, Illinois, for nearly so long as they’ve been on this nation.
Over the previous 5 years, the 31-year-old ladies have had their banking and financial savings accounts shut down. They’ve had their bank cards blocked. They’ve been suspected of partaking in id theft.
And, they are saying, the Social Security Administration has been both unable, or unwilling, to rectify its mistake.
The outcome has been a stage of frustration that LA Kim has likened to “throwing (an) egg onto the massive rock.”
“I’m left with worry about what’s in retailer for me as I’ve to cope with this horrible aftermath of the Social Security Administration’s mistake in giving one Social Security quantity to 2 folks,” she stated.
Chicagoland Kim stated the SSA gained’t come clean with its mistake.
“This sort of mix-up can occur with Asian folks as a result of they’ve very related names,” she says she was informed by its employees.
However after she not too long ago stuffed out an utility to get a new Social Security quantity, the SSA despatched her the identical quantity she had earlier than and blamed the snafu on pc error.
“It is because the pc acknowledges you guys as one individual,” Chicagoland Kim says she was informed by company employees.
Extra ominously, LA Kim stated, she was warned by a few of the SSA employees she handled to not make a fuss in regards to the mistake as a result of it may delay her getting a inexperienced card.
“The officer informed me that speaking about this Social Security quantity mix-up may lead to delaying the inexperienced card course of that might be carried out in six months to 2-3 years,” she stated.
NBC Information reached out to the SSA by e mail and phone Wednesday looking for an evidence for a way the 2 ladies ended up with the identical Social Security quantity, and for touch upon the insensitive and threatening remarks the 2 ladies say company employees made. The company has not responded.
James A. Lewis, a senior vp on the Middle for Strategic and Worldwide Research, a bipartisan suppose tank that makes a speciality of fixing safety points, stated this type of error is uncommon.
“To get a card, you might be imagined to current both an unique doc or a licensed copy,” Lewis, who has made suggestions for updating the Social Security quantity system, stated in an e mail. “Feels like a glitch, perhaps human error. The error fee is fairly low — they’ve issued 450 million playing cards.”
When there’s a mistake, he stated, “it’s often the opposite approach round with one individual getting two numbers.”
Nonetheless, the chance of error might be elevated by the truth that Kim is the one of the most typical Korean surnames.
LA Kim, who was born in Seoul, stated she left South Korea in 2012 for Los Angeles to attend an English language faculty and to review liberal arts at a group school. She stated she had a work allow and a job as a graphic designer.
She married a fellow South Korean immigrant who already has a inexperienced card, and she utilized for her personal inexperienced card this yr. Within the 10 years since she emigrated, she has not returned to Seoul out of worry that she wouldn’t be allowed to return to the U.S.
“It was so true, particularly underneath the Trump administration,” she stated of the worry.
Chicagoland Kim was born simply south of Seoul in a small metropolis known as Anyang. She arrived within the Chicago suburb in 2017 to review at Northwestern College. A doctoral scholar, she stated a full scholarship coated her first yr of research.
Her issues, and these of LA Kim, started in 2018 after they had been each issued Social Security playing cards bearing the identical quantity.
LA Kim obtained hers June 18, 2018. Chicagoland Kim acquired her card a little over a month in a while July 23.
Someday after that, Chicagoland Kim stated, she went to her native Chase Financial institution department to open an account, solely to seek out out another person already used her Social Security quantity to open an account.
“I instantly reported that any individual stole my Social Security quantity to the IRS, the Social Security Administration and the police,” she stated. “However I used to be so busy with my research that I used to be not in a position to comply with by means of and I simply left it there.”
Then in 2021, Chicagoland Kim stated, she discovered that Robinhood “closed down my inventory buying and selling account with out even consulting me.”
Then final yr, she began getting notices from the IRS. “I used to be having hassle getting the Covid-19-related authorities cost,” she stated.
The IRS knowledgeable her that she had already utilized for the cash.
“It actually was mind-blowing,” she stated. “I couldn’t perceive what was happening however I did perceive one thing horrible was taking place to me and that it’s getting me in big hassle.”
The final straw got here in January, Chicagoland Kim stated, when her bank cards had been canceled.
“So I known as my bank card corporations and demanded to know why,” she stated “The one reply I obtained from them was that they can not inform me as a result of it’s a safety situation and id safety situation.”
Chicagoland Kim stated she gathered up all her documentation and returned to Chase Financial institution the place she filed a formal report.
“By this time, I actually wished to speak to whoever was utilizing my Social Security quantity,” she stated. “To make a lengthy story quick, I discovered that I may depart a quantity on the financial institution for the opposite individual to get in contact with me. The folks on the financial institution and my buddies tried to cease me, saying this might make issues worse.”
In the meantime in Los Angeles, the opposite Kim stated she too was having banking and bank card issues. However not being acquainted with how the system works within the U.S., she didn’t instantly report it to the SSA or the police and let her financial institution type them out.
“Oh, there have been some unusual issues happening after I was attempting to make use of my card or do my banking,” she stated. “It wasn’t till like the tip of January that I turned sure that there was a significant issue utilizing my Social Security quantity.”
That’s when she lastly went to the police and the SSA, however obtained little assist.
Lastly, LA Kim stated, when she discovered that her bank card had been canceled, she went to Chase financial institution to seek out out why.
“Then, nearly by a miracle, a large breakthrough occurred,” she stated.
LA Kim stated she discovered that her namesake in Evanston had, on Feb. 4, left a quantity with the financial institution with directions for whoever was utilizing her Social Security quantity “to contact her.”
“I used to be very upset,” LA Kim stated. “Clearly, she was additionally very upset. So, our first textual content message didn’t go effectively.”
It wasn’t lengthy, although, earlier than they each realized what occurred.
“We discovered that we weren’t bizarre folks or thieves and that we occurred to share one Social Security quantity,” LA Kim stated.
Two days later, the Kims stated they visited their SSA places of work.
“Though the SSA officers didn’t readily imagine me, they ultimately admitted that the identical Social Security quantity was given to me” and the opposite Kim, LA Kim stated.
Now, each Kims stated, they hope the SSA may give one of them a new quantity and clear up their data.
Proper now, they stated, their private data and earnings histories are merged.
Additionally, LA Kim stated, SSA data record her as having 4 dad and mom — hers and Chicagoland Kim’s. And the company has, thus far, refused to offer her a letter confirming there was a snafu so she will be able to get her inexperienced card utility transferring, she stated.
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