Not hacker-proof: Getting a Social Security Number in Ireland

Right now I’m sitting in the local Welfare office to get a PPS number (thats how the Social Security Number is called here), otherwise I would not be able to legally earn any money here. Not that I would have problems earning money illegaly, its just that the local law-enforcement community gets a bit bitchy after a while in that case.

As Ireland, like all english speaking countries lacks organization and oversight when it comes to registering and controlling people, there exists no central citizen registration. Yeah, if they would accept a few lessons from Germany or France leaders like Bush (now Obama) or Blair could learn a valuable lesson on how to create a police state efficently. A social security number makes you a “real” citizen here – its needed to get a Job and maybe for all kind of other identifying purposes as well.

To get one of these numbers, all you need is a proof of address and a proof of identity.

Getting the proof of address is easy – just give them a utility bill. As there are no checks on your identity, any name will work, as long as your landlord believes your claim, that your mother named you “Donald Duck” . Given some basic people-skills, that should be easy to do.

The proof of identity is a bit more difficult. If you claim to be neither British nor Irish citizen, the Welfare-office requires a passport. Getting hold of one named “Donald Duck” is probably a bit too difficult to be carried out by novice con-artists. But getting a fake Windsor or scottish accent is not hard, and then you can take the easy route: British or Irish citizens need a birth certificate and a photographic ID (any ID!).

Birth-certificates are easy to “produce”. Either copy one – heck, they are plain paper and not meant to be tamper proof – or reapply for one choosing a suitable photographic ID. Be aware that this particular step may upset the law-enforcement community again, so be sure to do it right or to not do it. (Of course, as a good citizen I do not encourage any illegal activities of any kind. And if you have to do such things, then for heavens sake make sure that you at least prepare well.)

So how to get the photographic ID? Make one yourself. There are plenty of companies that offer services to produce company staff IDs or IDs for staff members for local events. They dont even check much on the background – so as long as you dont want to produce IDs from well-known locale companies you shall be fine. Just make sure, the ID you produce has a “official” looking name and appearance. If everything fails, register at the local library, in case they have a photo-ID for their members.

So once you have the ID, the birth certificate and the fake scottish accent, you are fine to apply for a PPS number. Welcome, newborn irish citizen “Donald Duck”.

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About Thomas

After working as all-hands guy and lead developer on Pentaho Reporting for over an decade, I have learned a thing or two about report generation, layouting and general BI practices. I have witnessed the remarkable growth of Pentaho Reporting from a small niche product to a enterprise class Business Intelligence product. This blog documents my own perspective on Pentaho Reporting's development process and our our steps towards upcoming releases.