This is shocking….. There are criminals out there just looking around for kids who have died and then claim them as dependents before some families can file. Those families that have been targeted must then have to prove that their child was actually their child.
How can something so appalling happen? How can people get the social security number?
Well, actually for those in the know it is very easy. It is the government who made it mandatory for this data to be rapidly available after an individual’s death. The thought was not bad or evil. The Death Master File (yes, that is what is called) was meant particularly for financial institutions to try to prevent others from using a dead person’s SSN to gain credit. In addition, there was a movement toward more transparency. What wasn’t considered at that time was the ease of information transfer that would come years later with the internet. Likely it wasn’t considered how genealogy sites would used the Death Master File.
So, how easily available is this Death Master File available? Well, one can even get it as a app- http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ssdmf/id453279465?ls=1&mt=8
Or if you don’t want to go to all that trouble one can just use one of the genealogy sites.
It seems that the DIPG community has been particularly hard hit with a dozen or more families being hit this year. Here is an article from Nov 17 the Huffington Post….. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/17/why-thieves-are-stealing-childhood-cancer-victims-identities_n_1093481.html
On Nov 18, Representative Sam Johnson (R- TX) along with seven co-sponsors introduced a bill to try to curtail this fraud perpetrated on our grieving families.:
H.R.3475 -- Keeping IDs Safe Act of 2011
Please consider calling and writing your Representative to bring awareness to this issue.
Unfortunately, it might not be possible to close this loophole before the next tax cycle in 2012 so it is likely that many families will continue to be vulnerable to this fraud.