Identity Finder will find things that look like Social Security Numbers, even if they really aren’t.  It’s looking for a pattern and it is better to find some files that can be ignored than to miss some Social Security Numbers.  When Identity Finder says that a file has a Social Security Number in it by mistake, that’s called a False Positive.

Some of the False Positives we’ve see include:

  • Mistyped telephone numbers: (319) 38-1234.  Identity finder doesn’t care how you separate the numbers, it just sees a total of 9 numbers in a row with no letters between them and thinks it might be a Social Security Number.

    What do I do?
    If you are sure it is not a Social Security Number, you can tell Identity Finder to ignore the file.
     

  • Internet cookies and other identifiers.  When you visit a web page, it may put a cookie on your local computer to save your settings.  The random number that the web page gives you may look like a Social Security Number.  Here’s a cookie that CNN left on one computer:
    .cnn.com    TRUE  /     FALSE 128166551   CNNid Gaa54548-14803635-1150020624187-1
    Identity Finder will think that 128166551 is a Social Security Number.

    What do I do?
    You can safely Shred these files.
     

  • Other files.  If you could look at a program file like winword.exe, you’d see a bunch of random numbers, letters, and symbols.  Some of those numbers might look like a Social Security Number to Identity Finder.  We’ve tried to limit these False Positives as much as possible, but there will always be exceptions.

    What do I do?
    If you can’t read what is in the Identity Finder Preview Pane because it is full of funny looking characters, you can ignore the file.  If you are still in doubt you can contact the Help Desk and they will help you out.

If you have questions or issues regarding tasks with Identity Finder, contact the ITS Help Desk.

Article number: 
1944
Last updated: 
April 4, 2017
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