Residents of Utah will have greater control over use of their Social Security numbers by government and private companies under a bill being considered by state legislators.

The Interim Judiciary Committee agreed last week to polish a bill that would force businesses and government agencies to develop an alternate identifying number if a citizen requests it.An exception allows government agencies to use the number regardless of an individual's wishes if its use is mandated by state or federal law.

That means an individual could not block the use of the federally issued numbers to identify Medicaid, Medicare and welfare beneficiaries, for example.

Committee members said the new restriction plus a tougher penalty for violating the law might help prevent criminals from assuming and abusing citizens' identities.

At least one organization objects to the proposal. The Credit Bureau of Ogden dispatched a letter to the committee saying the move would make it tough to locate estate heirs, confirm bank-account holders and prevent consumer fraud, for example.