Are Editors Responsible for Who Sends Submissions? (Alternatively: What the F— is Homeland Security Doing Calling us?)

So you may remember this post, in which I said one of Ann’s submissions had been opened by Homeland Security.

Well, this morning Ann got a purported call from Homeland Security trying to verify her name and social security number. They asked for Ann “Kennedy,” not only her ex-husband’s name but the name on the envelope of the submission HS had opened. The person had the wrong social and Ann didn’t volunteer the right one.

If this call was legitimate, and we think it might have been because no one calls us asking for Ann “Kennedy”–they either call asking for her under her maiden name or VanderMeer–it does raise an interesting question: Can magazine editors be held responsible for who sends submissions to them? The sensible answer is, of course, NO. But Ann’s still going to follow up on this to try to verify the legitimacy of the call, etc.


  1. Divers Hands says

    Speaking as an agent of the U.S. Treasury here, Homeland Security is not legally able to ask for your social security number. The only three departments able to request your SS# are the Department of Social Security, the Internal Revenue Service, and U.S. Customs – and the latter only for tax verification purposes (as in, if you are crossing a border and you declare goods Customs can request an SS#, but if you do not declare anything they cannot ask it and you are not legally required to volunteer it). While employers are legally able to request a copy of your SS Card in order to file tax forms, entities like credit associations or banks cannot legally ask you for your SS#. This, however, does not mean that if you don’t provide one they have to offer you any services. Further, there aren’t really a lot of sanctions you can impose on someone who requests for your SS# illegally. Basically, the Office of Social Security can warn them that they are breaking a federal regulation/law ( depending on the circumstance), but has very little ability to punish offenders until they perform an illegal act with the information.

    Given the oddness of the situation, I would like to believe that your call was not in fact from DHS , but probably from some kind of an opportunist who caught info from your blog. I will admit though, that DHS very well might be behind this. The amount of oversight kept over their actions and agents is… terrifying in its lack. Regardless, never give social security info away over the phone.

  2. says

    Ann didn’t. She just said the SSN they read out was not hers. It is more than a bit weird. Thanks for the info.

    Any other thoughts from readers?


  3. says

    Sounds like a scam or even worse, harassment. I would guess if the person left a name and contact information, it might be legitimate, but if not, then it probably is some fool.

  4. says

    It wasn’t really an effective form of harassment, if so. As scam goes, I’m not sure what advantage they got from it, either. They did give a name.

  5. says

    Did she ask WHY they wanted to know? I’m burning with curiosity. Or maybe that’s rage leftover from reading Little Brother, it’s hard to say ;) hahaha

  6. says

    Creepy. Follow through on this one and let us know if it was DHS. Speaking of SS, I have school loans and this is the first year, my entire SS# was not printed out on the bill. I think we’d all be surprised at what DHS does.

  7. Jake says

    Jeff, was the SS close to Ann’s or was it totally off base? If it wasn’t close I would suspect an opportunist just made up a number in the hopes of getting Ann to pass over the real one. If it was only off by a digit, well that seems a little more sinister.

  8. says

    I think they were hoping she’s be gulible enough to give it to them. The same way people trying to phish eBay accounts think someone who doesn’t have an eBay account will actually try to log in if sent an unpaid item notice. Or the people who think people will still fall for the Nigerian scam.