(USA) Senate Bill 1534 Identify Theft and Tax Fraud Prevention Act

Posted by: Jan Meisels Allen

I recently posted about US Senator Sherrod Brown and the "Dear Colleague" letter in which he was requesting other Senators to join him in writing to genealogy websites to remove from their websites the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) also known as the Death Master File (DMF) that had legally purchased and posted. According to the Lake City Journal,
http://tinyurl.com/77fq3ca original url:
the "Dear Colleague letter was sent to genealogy websites by Senators Nelson
(D-FL), Brown (D-OH), Durbin (D-IL) and Stabenow (D-MI).

Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) introduced SB 1534, the Identity Theft and
Tax Fraud Prevention Act See: http://tinyurl.com/75de8o9
original url:
http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-112s1534is/pdf/BILLS-112s1534is.pdf .
This bill has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee.
Senator Nelson serves on the Senate Finance Committee.

In addition to addressing tax fraud and establishing penalties, and user id numbers for those who apply about tax fraud, Section 9 (page 6) restricts access to the Death Master File. For the calendar year of the person's death and the calendar year following, disclosure of information on a deceased person listed in the DMF is prohibited unless they are certified. Certification would be done through the Secretary of Commerce and only to those who have a legitimate fraud prevention interest. The Social Security Administration would not be compelled to disclose any person in the DMF that is not certified.

Companion legislation in the House of Representatives are:
HR 3482 by Rep Kathy Castor ( D- FL)
http://tinyurl.com/83p4b4p original url:
This bill has been referred to the House Ways and Means Committee and the
Finance Committee.
and HR 3215 by Rep Kathy Castor (D-FL) and Richard Nugent (R-FL)
http://tinyurl.com/7fgsd5s original url
This bill was referred to House Ways and Means Committee.
I don't know why Rep. Castor introduced the bill twice.

Genealogy websites that post the SSDI (the commercial name of the DMF) obtain the information from the Social Security Administration. The reading of this bill as currently written would prevent the websites from obtaining and posting the SSDI during the time frame when certification is required (the calendar year the death of the person occurred and the following
calendar year).

Jan Meisels Allen
IAJGS Vice President
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee


  1. Please, I would welcome restrictions on the use of this information. My son died last September, he was killed in a traffic accident. When I went to file our taxes this year they were rejected because my son's SSN had already been used on somebody else’s tax return. No-one else is entitled to use this information. My wife and I have enjoyed a long marriage. There is no way anyone else would have even known his information, yet alone been entitled to use it. Once he died it became public information and was stolen to benefit someone else’s pocketbook. Please put your-self into our shoes... we already had to bury our son once, now we have to prove to the IRS that he is our son. We have to file paper returns, electronic ones are not accepted. We have to submit his death certificate, birth certificate, a written letter stating we are entitled to claim him, and copies of our driver’s licenses. It will take 8 to 12 weeks to even be looked at; if an error is found... which it will be... the criminal simply has to pay back the money with penalties. No prosecution exists in these cases as they can very easily lie and state that they simply made a mistake. If you actually think this is all ok, then I don't understand you. I pray this never happens to you.

    My son's name was Joshua Miller of Latham MO - he died while driving... he was wearing his seat belt. His phone was in his pocket. He was on his way to work... the death certificate listed the cause of death as crushing injuries to the head, throat, chest and lower extremities. They had to use 4 tow trucks to separate the two vehicles. The other driver was fine. Please, be aware - under current laws you cannot stop this type of identity theft. This can't be ok.

    Jason Miller

    1. While clearly this form of identity theft must be stopped, the solution need not be eliminating the Social Security Death Index from public view. When there is a leak in a dike, the solution is to repair the leak, not drain the lake. There are a number of solutions. The simplest is not post to the SSDI for some short period of time, like a year or two. This would satisfy most genealogists but may not satisfy other users who use it as proof of death. The proper solution should be determined by a group of interested parties; a solution that solves the identity theft problem without impeding those who have a need for the index.

      Gary Mokotoff


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