On July 30, 2016, Social Security began requiring new and current my Social Security account holders to sign into their account using a one-time code sent via text message. This second layer of security that requires more than a username and a password is known as “multifactor authentication.” We recently mandated this second layer of security to comply with the President’s Executive Order on Improving the Security of Consumer Financial Transactions. We implemented it aggressively because we have a fundamental responsibility to protect the public’s personal information.
We’ve added an extra layer of security for our customers when they interact with us online. Now, my Social Security account holders are required to use their cell phone — in addition to their username and password — as another authentication factor during online registration and every sign in. An authentication factor is information used to determine if someone is who they claim to be.
This extra layer of security is called “multifactor authentication” and complies with an executive order requiring federal agencies to provide more secure authentication for their online services. Any agency that provides online access to a customer’s personal information must now use multifactor authentication.
Since my Social Security became available in May 2012, almost 26 million people have created an account. We have always offered multifactor authentication, but only for customers who opted for extra security. For your protection, we now require multifactor authentication for all my Social Security users. To register and sign in, you must now enter a security code that we will send to your cell phone. Your cell phone provider’s text message and data rates may apply.
Our research shows that an overwhelming majority of American adults have cell phones and use them for texting. Because of technical and resource constraints, we are not currently able to offer alternative methods of satisfying this security requirement. However, we may consider adding more options in the future. We appreciate your patience as we work continuously to secure your online information.
We’re committed to using the best technologies and standards available to protect our customers’ data. Multifactor authentication is just one of the ways we’re ensuring the safety and security of the resources entrusted to us. Visit my Social Security at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount to learn more about this helpful suite of online services, including additional details about our latest security measures.