Start Now!The DNA test that tells a more complete story of you.

Social Security death-file policy challenged by lawmakers | The Republic

WASHINGTON – The No. 2 leader in the Senate, Richard Durbin, D-Ill., wants to know why a government policy enables dead children’s identities to be stolen.

In response to a Scripps Howard News Service investigation raising “several troubling questions,” Durbin co-authored a letter Tuesday asking if the Social Security Administration could be doing more to prevent ID theft.

The agency’s publicly available Death Master File — which includes the full nine-digit Social Security numbers of roughly 90 million deceased Americans — “clearly is being abused,” wrote Durbin and Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., a champion of stronger rules to reduce the threat of ID theft.

“When do you intend to implement changes?” the lawmakers asked in their letter to Michael Astrue, Social Security’s commissioner.

The agency’s publicly available Death Master File — which includes the full nine-digit Social Security numbers of roughly 90 million deceased Americans — “clearly is being abused,” wrote Durbin and Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., a champion of stronger rules to reduce the threat of ID theft.

Rep. James Moran, D-Va., on Wednesday said his office also had contacted the agency to inquire about fixing a “particularly outrageous” government practice through which a family in his district was victimized.

These three become the latest lawmakers to question Social Security’s longstanding policy of publicly releasing the Death Master File. Its records — widely available for free or a small fee on many geneology sites — enable thieves to obtain Social Security numbers and use them to submit phony tax returns to the Internal Revenue Service. Their goal: stealing families’ refunds from dependent tax credits.

Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Texas, who chairs the House Ways and Means’ subcommittee on Social Security, last week said he would conduct a hearing on the Death Master File in response to the Scripps’ report.

Durbin and Nelson, meanwhile, want to meet with Social Security officials for answers to questions posed in their two-page letter. Among other things, they ask whether the agency has “considered delaying the release of deceased children’s information” or “explored alternatives to including the full SSN.”

A Social Security spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

(Email reporters Isaac Wolf at wolfi(at)shns.com and Thomas Hargrove at hargrovet(at)shns.com.)

(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, http://www.scrippsnews.com)

Story Tags: Social Security Administration, Thomas Hargrove, James Moran, Social Security, Scripps Howard News Service, Isaac Wolf





Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *