I’ve signed — how about you?

I’ve signed the SSDI petition — have you?

Sign the RPAC Petition now!

The petition of the Records Preservation and Access Committee (RPAC) is now up and running at WhiteHouse.gov. I’ve signed — mine was signature number 11. Have you signed yet? If not, get moving!

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/.

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9 Responses to I’ve signed — how about you?

  1. Trish says:

    I have tried a half-dozen times to sign this petition. I created an account. Logged out. Back into the website. Signed In. I went to the petition. The Sign Petition button was not highlighted, so it would not respond when I clicked on it. I responded to the prompt to sign in (again!). Each time I responded to the prompt, it took me right back to my account information page. Back to the petition. Repeat. Repeat.

    Any suggestions or tips?

    • Judy G. Russell says:

      Trish, did you check your email to get the verification link when you created the account? That’s what tripped me up initially.

  2. We need a compromise on this bill, release old numbers but not new infant deaths. These people walk the cemetaries for names and DOB and DOD, then get the number but our research can be destroyed. There must be compromise!

  3. I imagine some people may know by now since this was an earlier post, but it’s very important that after registering that you close your browser completely, or clear your cache some other way, and then go back to cast your vote.

  4. m.g. says:

    So is the petition actually entitled: “Take steps to stop fraudulent tax refund claims based upon identity theft from recently deceased infants & adults NOW.” where the link goes?

    • Judy G. Russell says:

      Yes. The argument for closing the records is that they can be misused to commit identity theft. If that’s true (and it hasn’t been proved that any cases of identity theft come from these records), then there are better ways to solve the problem by USING the records, not closing them.

  5. Betty Ford says:

    Please do not stop people from finding out about their ancestors. This is a way for people to connect with their relatives that came over here from any country and should be available when we need them. After all, it is our relatives that we are trying to find.

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