November 24, 2014

I’ve Signed The SSDI Petition – Have You? It’s Not Just About Genealogists!

RPAC logo

I’ve Signed The SSDI Petition – Have You?

It’s important for you to know about this petition and to sign it to protect your ability to access the Social Security Death Index and other records as well as stopping ID theft in its tracks. Rather than me doing a big long post about it, please take a moment to read the press release from RPAC (Records Preservation and Access Committee) I am including in this article to familiarize yourself with the issue and how it can affect you and your family.

If you would just like to go directly to the petition site you can Sign the We The People petition at http://wh.gov/khE

After you register on the site, close your browser and/or clear your cache. Go back to the petition site, log in and sign the petition. Remember, this isn’t just about genealogy. It’s about your right to access public records.

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/.

Much of the information I have shared here came from:

RPAC  – A joint committee of the Federation of Genealogical Societies, the National Genealogical Society, and the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies.

The Legal Genealogist – A genealogist with a law degree. An excellent blog written by Judy G. Russell.

 

Implement The Star Trek Philosophy When It Comes To The SSDI

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Citing the Needs of the Many

Which Star Trek character said, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one”? Most notably, it was Spock in the movie The Wrath of Kahn. So what does that have to do with the Social Security Death Index? To my way of thinking, it points out the essence of the mistake the government is making when it cuts the majority of us off from free access to the regularly updated index.

I too will admit to having a personal genealogical interest in this limitation of public records as did Megan Smolenyak in her article Are We Going to Lose the Social Security Death Index (SSDI)? .  I don’t think I could say anything better than she did.  We’ve also had some excellent articles about the SSDI debacle by Kimberly Powell at About: Genealogy (Social Security Administration Removing Names from Public Death Master File (aka SSDI)) as well as several others.

It seems logical to me that when the IRS was alerted to the fact that people were taking the social security numbers of deceased children and using them to claim them on their income taxes, that it was their responsibility to do due diligence and investigate it at their end.  More people than just genealogists need this database and it’s just “cutting off your nose to spite your face” to cut off access to the SSDI out of hand.


 

Ancestry Throws A 15 Day Genealogy Feast Starting October 1


Ancestry.com 15th Anniversary Sweepstakes

Ready, Set, Search! 

Ancestry is celebrating 15 years of genealogy goodness with their 15 days of free access to selected databases on their site.  For my readers who’ve been waiting for a chance like this, it’s finally arrived!

Win Daily Prizes with Ancestry.com 15th Anniversary Sweepstakes

Beginning October1, 2011 and running through October 15th at midnight.

 Each day of the 15 days you’ll check the site to see which database is available, as well as what prize is being awarded that day.  (The first database is the Social Security Death Index; the first day prize is a 1 year Ancestry.com World Explorer Membership).

Fifteen Years:  The People Behind Ancestry’s Success

I’m looking forward to seeing all of the faces and stories of those who’ve helped to make Ancestry.com a success. First up? Lou Szucs who has been an employee since 1996.  Thank you Lou!

Weighing In On Dick Eastman’s Article About Genealogists

How The Genealogy World Turns

I just read Dick Eastman’s article I Have a Complaint Concerning Many Genealogists wherein he takes some genealogists to task for not understanding the real value of paid genealogy sites.  I heartily agree with everything he says and I’m surprised that he had to explain it at all.

His analogy of ‘going to the stream for water as opposed to having water pipes run to your house’ completely sums up the value of paid genealogy site access vs going to the source in some other location. How anyone could complain about having genealogy documentation in one place and readily available is beyond me.

Genealogy Then, and Now

When I first began doing genealogy it was when genealogy programs were in their infancy and there were free sites like Rootsweb, etc.  Ancestry was just building their now immense database but I could see the value of being able to have online access even then.

I’m Doing Genealogy In My Jammies

If anyone decides to drop Dick Eastman’s newsletter it’s because their understanding of the value of a point of accessibility hasn’t filtered into their consciousness.  Like Mr. Eastman, I too hope that vendors don’t abandon the business because of complainers.  Of course, “nothing’s free” but in accessing genealogy-related websites, wouldn’t you rather have the convenience?

 

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