I’ve signed the SSDI petition — have you?
Here’s the link: http://wh.gov/khE (you need to register first!!).
This isn’t all the genealogical community needs to do. We still need to tell the House Ways and Means Committee’s Subcommittee on Social Security that we strongly oppose all legislation to close the Social Security Death Index. Find out how exactly to speak up on that in SSDI Call to Action. And then each of us needs to write letters (and/or emails and/or faxes) to both Senators from the state we live in (get the names and address of your Senators here) and to the member of the House of Representatives for the District where we live (get the name and address of your House member here) explaining where we stand and asking for their support.
We need to tell them, clearly and simply, in our own language, using our own experience, that the answer to identity theft is not closing public records, but rather using them. And that freedom of information should never be a casualty in the war on identity thieves.
You can find out more at RPAC’s website, and here’s the press release from RPAC to help us all write our letters:
For Immediate Release
February 7, 2012
RPAC ANNOUNCES STOP ID THEFT NOW! CAMPAIGN WITH WHITE HOUSE PETITION
Genealogy Community Responds To Efforts To Remove Access to Social Security Death Index and Other Records
February 7, 2012– Austin, TX: The Records Preservation & Access Committee (RPAC) – a joint coalition of international genealogical societies representing millions of genealogists and family historians – announces the launch of its Stop ID Theft NOW! campaign with its We The People petition posted at WhiteHouse.gov.
Call To Action For IRS To Do Its Job
Each year, fraudulent tax refund claims based upon identity theft from recently deceased infants and adults are filed with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The current target is the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) or Death Master File since this file, as found on numerous genealogy-oriented websites, could possibly be the source of identity thieves acquiring a deceased person’s Social Security number.
The IRS could close the door to this form of identity theft if, in fact, it were to use the Death Master File for the purpose for which it was created: to reduce fraud. If returns claiming a tax refund were screened against the Master Death File and matching cases identified for special processing, the thief should receive a rejection notice for the filing.
Tax Fraud and Identity Theft: Genealogists Are Not To Blame
The House Ways and Means Committee Subcommittee on Social Security is proposing to completely shut down use of the SSDI by genealogists as well as other industries such as banking and insurance that rely upon its information. Such an attempt is short-sighted and runs counter to the original purpose of the SSDI: to actually combat fraud.
Loss of Access to SSDI Affects More Than Genealogists
The SSDI is accessed by many different companies, non-profits and other entities besides individuals researching their family history. Forensic specialists utilize the SSDI when reuniting remains of military veterans with their next-of-kin and descendants. Law offices, banks and insurance companies utilize the SSDI to resolve probate cases and to locate heirs.
All of these entities would be required to spend more money and more time leveraging other resources of information when the SSDI has served this purpose, uninterrupted, for over a decade.
RPAC Petitions Obama Administration
The We the People petition, now posted at http://wh.gov/khE and accepting signatures, has a simple yet effective mission:
Take immediate steps that would curtail the filing of fraudulent tax refund claims based upon identity theft from recently deceased infants and adults.
[Note: Visitors to the WhiteHouse.gov website must log in to sign the petition, or click Create an Account to register. Once registered, return to http://wh.gov/khE to sign the petition.]
No need for lengthy hearings in front of a Congressional committee. No need for filing statements for or against any House action. No need to waste time and effort which could be directed to more pressing national issues. In fact, the National Taxpayer Advocate in 2011 issued suggestions which do not require additional legislation but can be implemented collaboratively between the IRS and Social Security Administration (SSA) almost immediately in time to impact the current tax filing season.
About Records Preservation & Access Committee (RPAC)
The Records Preservation & Access Committee (RPAC) was formed to advise the genealogical community on ensuring proper access to historical records of genealogical value in whatever media they are recorded, on means to affect legislation, and on supporting strong records preservation policies and practices.
The genealogical community works together through The Records Preservation and Access Committee (RPAC), which today includes The National Genealogical Society (NGS), the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) and the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) as voting members. The Association of Professional Genealogists (APG), the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG), the American Society of Genealogists (ASG), ProQuest and Ancestry.com serve as participating members.
To learn more visit http://www.fgs.org/rpac/.