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Sam Johnson: U.S. Congressman, Third District of Texas

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Texas Rep. Sam Johnson targets identity thieves who steal names of the dead

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Washington, Jul 28, 2013 | comments

Through the Death Master File (DMF), Social Security information is accessible for identity theft, but Texas Rep. Sam Johnson hopes to prevent the fraudulent activity.

Johnson, a Republican from Plano, recently introduced legislation in the House to help prevent criminals from stealing benefits and tax refunds from the deceased.

The Alexis Agin Identity Theft Protection Act of 2013 would delay Social Security information from being published directly after an individual passes away.

If the bill were enacted, it would better protect the privacy of deceased individual and help prevent tax fraud associated with the DMF. Starting January 2014, only death information older than three years would be made publicly available.

Johnson made the following remarks on the House floor regarding the legislation:

“Mr. Speaker, for the last thirty years, Social Security has been required to make personal information of deceased Americans public through the so-called Death Master File. Unfortunately, identity thieves use this file to steal Americans’ identities to obtain fraudulent tax refunds. Worse, these criminals target deceased children, like 4-year-old Alexis Agin, whose family joins us today. Worrying about the stolen identity of a loved one is the last thing a grieving family should do. I salute the Agins for their tireless advocacy. Today, I humbly join their efforts by introducing – the Alexis Agin Identity Theft Protection Act – with my Democrat colleague and ranking-member on Social Security, Xavier Becerra. This common-sense, bipartisan bill will protect families and prevent further abuse of taxpayer dollars. It’s time to stop the public sale of the Death Master File. Mr. Speaker, in honor of Alexis Agin, I urge my colleagues to join us and get this bill signed into law.”

The DMF would still be available to those who needed the information to administer benefits or prevent fraud, as long as there are safeguards in place to protect the data.

Subscribers can purchase monthly or weekly updates of the DMF. If a subscriber wishes to sell the DMF, they must require continuous subscribers to adhere to the mandatory requirement for keeping their DMF up to date.

In some instances, the file has been used to obtain tax refunds based on the deceased’s identity, including the identity of children. As of March 2013, the DMF contains the information of 87 million individuals who have died since 1936.

link: http://blog.chron.com/txpotomac/2013/07/texas-rep-sam-johnson-targets-identity-thieves-who-steal-names-of-the-dead/
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