PEORIA - All Jill Carlon wanted was a new Social Security number for her daughter. The girl was the victim of ongoing identity theft problems. For seven years, Carlon said the Social Security Administration's Phoenix office denied her requests, even after Carlon changed the girl's name on advice from a Social Security caseworker.
In April, ABC15 aired the story of Carlon's daughter and the fight to clear the credit history attached to her Social Security number even though she was just 14 years old. Two days later, Carlon said, the Social Security Administration called her and offered to issue the child a new number.
The story caught the attention of Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D) 9th District. Sinema had recently introduced a bill that would streamline the Social Security verification process for obtaining credit, making it harder for people to commit synthetic identity theft.
The bill eventually passed and was signed into law by President Trump. After seeing Carlon's story, Sinema sent a letter to the Social Security commissioner.
"We said this is unfair, it's wrong and you should fix it," Rep. Sinema said. "I'm really proud to say they did."
Rep. Sinema said she received confirmation from acting SSA Commissioner Nancy Berryhill assuring the agency implemented a number of changes.
"This case was not only not handled properly, it was bungled," said Rep. Sinema.
Sinema said the agency has now instructed all of its local offices to never advise someone to change their name in order to get a replacement number. Also, Sinema said regional experts are now assigned to provide guidance to local offices and caseworkers with complex cases. Also, she said caseworkers will have more leeway in determining when a new number is warranted.
"Now Social Security caseworkers are instructed to take into consideration the whole picture and be more thoughtful about when to make a decision to get a new Social Security number," Rep. Sinema said.
In a phone conversation, Carlon said she's thrilled changes were made and hopes no other family will have to go through such a bureaucratic tangle.
We reached out to the Social Security Administration. We did not get a response by deadline.