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  • The lowest possible Social Security Number (SSN), 001-01-0001, was actually issued to Grace D. Owen of Concord, N.H. She was the first applicant from New Hampshire. The most abused SSN of all time is 078-05-1120. In 1938, a wallet manufacturer, E.H. Ferree Co., thought it would be clever to use a sample Social Security card to promote its product for display purposes in department stores across the country. They used the actual SSN of a company secretary, Hilda Whitcher. By 1943, 5,755 people were using Hilda's number, even though the card was only half the size of a real card, was printed all in red, and had the word "specimen" written across the face. Eventually, more than 40,000 people reported her SSN as their own - 12 people as late as 1977. Social Security Administration

  • Credit Card Banks mailed out about 3 billion solicitations in 2000 - approximately 25 for every US household. In 2001 they mailed out 5 billion. Federal Reserve Bank Statistics

  • In 1997, one application was received for every 70 credit card solicitations mailed. In 2001, one for every 200 mailed applied for a credit card. Federal Reserve Bank Statistics

  • In 1996 Americans used about one-third of their collective credit card limits. In 2001 they used about one-fifth. Consumer Federation of America

  • The number of bankruptcy cases filed in federal courts is now at an all-time high, exceeding 1.5 million filings in the 12-month period ending June 30, 2002. Of these, more than 1.46 million were personal filings. Consumer Federation of America

  • Credit union mortgage lending has increased 78% in the past five years, now comprising over 42% of the industry's total loan portfolio. Auto loans dropped by 39% during the same period. Credit Union National Association (CUNA)

  • The Enron case is the first time a corporate officer has been criminally charged with money laundering, which carries a much larger penalty and longer prison terms than other crimes. Money Laundering Alert, June, 2002

Copyright © 2002 Bankers' Hotline. Originally appeared in Bankers' Hotline, Vol. 12, No. 7, 9/02

First published on 09/01/2002

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