Skip to main content
ID Theft Resources

New US Army Dog Tags—No Social Security Numbers

Written for NortonLifeLock

It’s been more than 40 years since U.S. Army dog tags have had an update. They’re getting one now: New U.S. Army dog tags will no longer include a soldier’s Social Security number.

The reason? Identity theft.

Replaced with DOD ID numbers

The U.S. Department of Defense wants to reduce the use of Social Security numbers, so the Army is replacing them with the soldiers’ Department of Defense identification numbers.

A quote on the U.S. Army website summed it up pretty well:

If you find a pair of lost ID tags you can pretty much do anything with that person’s identity because you now have their blood type, their religion, you have their Social [Security number], and you have their name. The only thing missing is their birth date, and you can usually get that by Googling a person.

– Michael Klemowski, U.S. Army Human Resources Command

Army first reports the Army is apparently the only service to make the dog-tag change thus far, and soldiers being deployed will be the first ones to receive the new dog tags.

According to the U.S. Army website,, the required change dates back to 2007, when it was first outlined in the Defense Department’s Social Security Number Reduction Plan and then-President George W. Bush’s Task Force on Identity Theft Strategic Plan. But it’s apparently easier ordered than done.

The Army has several systems tied to a soldier’s Social Security number, and each had to be retooled to work not only with one another, but also with the Defense Department’s identification numbers.

Social Security Dog Tags?

Here’s something I discovered on the Social Security Administration website in researching this post. In the mid-1930s, when considering ways to assign Social Security numbers to all U.S. citizens, one proposal was to issue metal nameplates, not unlike military dog tags. The idea was vetoed, but a company eager for the potential business even prepared a sample in the name of Social Security Administration Commissioner Arthur Altmeyer.

Altmeyer, who was the one who vetoed the idea as soon as he heard about it, kept the sample dog tag in his desk drawer and donated it to the Administration after his retirement.

Main image:

Editorial note: Our articles provide educational information for you. Norton LifeLock offerings may not cover or protect against every type of crime, fraud, or threat we write about. Our goal is to increase awareness about cyber safety. Please review complete Terms during enrollment or setup. Remember that no one can prevent all identity theft or cybercrime, and that LifeLock does not monitor all transactions at all businesses.

Start your protection,
enroll in minutes.