July 2, 2014

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How Changes to the Death Master File Help Prevent Identity Theft

Lately it seems like I’m always writing about the many bad guys out there and the many ways they try to steal your identity. Well, I thought it was time for some good news! The United States Congress has passed a law that will help stop identity thieves in their tracks by protecting the identities of millions of deceased Americans. Here’s how it works:

The Social Security Death Master File

The Social Security Death Master File (SSDMF) is a database containing highly sensitive, personally identifiable information on more than 86 million deceased individuals. This massive collection of data contains the social security numbers, names, dates of birth and death, state or country of residence, and the ZIP code of the last residence of these 86 million decedents.

A Bipartisan Decision; New Restrictions

In the past, criminals could easily access the DMF and use the names held within to commit identity fraud. However, the signing into law of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 now restricts how the DMF is accessed, making identity theft and fraud much harder to commit.

According to http://www.idtheftcenter.org, any applicant to the DMF must now “certify that he or she has a legitimate fraud prevention interest or a legitimate business purpose pursuant to law, rule regulation or fiduciary duty, and have systems, facilities, and procedures in place to safeguard such information, and experience in maintaining the confidentiality, security, and appropriate use of such information.” (Section 203(b)(2)(A)) The Secretary of Commerce is also ordered to perform periodic and unscheduled audits of people requesting access to assess their compliance with the DMF program requirements.

Prior to the signing into law of the act by President Obama, one of the most lucrative ways identity thieves used the DMF included filing fraudulent tax returns under a deceased person’s name and then claiming the refund. This was very hard on grieving families, and enriched criminals at the expense of our nation’s law-abiding taxpayers.

Stopping Identity Thieves in Their Tracks

It’s my hope that this bipartisan law will stop identity thieves in their tracks. But, because criminals are always thinking up new ways to steal people’s sensitive personal information, it’s a good idea to enroll in an identity theft protection program.

By signing up for IdentityForce’s UltraSecure+Credit your personal information, including your credit, will be monitored 24/7, and you’ll be notified immediately of any suspicious activity so you can act before any damage is done. If anything does happen, IdentityForce will be with you every step of the way helping you restore your identity.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Brian Turner.

David Rabinovitz

Identity Protection Consultant at IdentityForce
David is aligned closely with c-level principals and provides them with coaching services focused on strategy, finance, ownership, deal structuring, and shareholder relationships, which led him to join one of his high-growth clients as their CFO. As a high-energy executive with a wealth of experience, David is a versatile corporate “fireman” who skills are often sought after to assess and resolve complex business challenges, as he brings critical insight for business leaders in transition.He is also a long-standing Special Crew Volunteer for Pan-Mass Challenge, an annual cycling fundraiser that strives to provide Dana-Farber's doctors and researchers the necessary resources to discover cures for all types of cancer.

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