The IRS has begun removing social security numbers from some IRS notices in the header (leaving just the last four digits, such as xxx-xx-1234). The reason for this is the problem of identity theft. And I give kudos to the IRS for this. Unfortunately, the IRS hasn’t executed this that well.
Today I opened an IRS notice that was sent to a client. The good: The social security number in the header had only the last four digits. The bad: Right below the header the IRS put in a bar code–presumably to make processing of the return mail easier. Below the bar code in relatively small print (but easily readable by me, and I wear glasses) was the deciphering of the code. Of course, it contained the social security number.
My helpful hint to the IRS: It does no good to remove the social security number from the header and then add it right below the bar code. Identity thieves can read it there, too.