Archive for the ‘Regulation’ Category
If enacted as proposed, a provision in the federal 2014 Budget would eliminate most public access to the Death Master File, also known as the Social Security Death Index (SSDI). The United States Department of the Treasury is recommending a significant change to the SSDI that would “restrict immediate access to the DMF to those users who legitimately need the information for fraud prevention purposes and to delay the release of the DMF for three years to all other users.”
The full but short Treasury proposal (page 203):
RESTRICT ACCESS TO THE DEATH MASTER FILE (DMF)
The DMF is a list of deceased individuals maintained by the Social Security Administration (SSA) that is updated weekly. SSA created the DMF in response to a 1980 consent judgment that requires SSA to provide certain personally identifiable information about deceased individuals under the Freedom of Information Act. The DMF contains the full name, Social Security number (SSN), date of birth, date of death, and the county, state, and zip code of the last address on record for decedents. This information is publicly available and, pursuant to the consent judgment, released weekly by SSA, and many websites publish the information included on the DMF free or for a nominal fee.
Some DMF users need immediate access to the DMF for fraud prevention purposes, such as pension administrators who use DMF data to terminate payments. Others use the information for purposes that are not time -sensitive, such as genealogy research. A third group, however, uses the DMF for illegitimate purposes, including identity thieves who use the DMF to steal the names and SSNs of recent decedents, which information identity thieves then use to file fraudulent tax returns.
Reasons for Change
Refund-fraud related identity theft has grown exponentially in recent years. Fraudulent tax returns using a decedent’s identifying information are difficult to detect before improper refunds are paid, because the Internal Revenue Service may not discover that identity theft has occurred until a surviving family member files an income tax return claiming the decedent as a dependent or files the decedent’s final income tax return.
Restricting immediate access to those users with a legitimate fraud prevention purpose while delaying the release for other users protects the privacy interests of decedents, reduces opportunities for identity theft, and restricts information sources used to file fraudulent tax returns while still making the information on the DMF available to users who have a legitimate need for the information.
The proposal would restrict immediate access to the DMF to those users who legitimately need the information for fraud prevention purposes and to delay the release of the DMF for three years to all other users.
The proposal would be effective upon enactment.
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The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funds “Section 8” housing, — locally administered, publicly owned housing — usually multi-unit buildings that residents can apply to live in who meet certain income, age or disability criteria.
HUD-funded multi-unit buildings are searchable by state in the HUD, Affordable Apartment Search database. A list of these is also available from the city or county housing authority and is often posted on the agency website.
Available rental units can be found in the searchable database, goSection8.com.
Housing assistance vouchers are also given to qualified recipients for rental of pre-approved privately owned residences. You’ll have to request a list of these from the city or county housing authority because they aren’t published on the agencies websites.
The types of documents kept by HUD on the construction of public housing and financing arrangements can be researched at the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations, Title 24.
The local housing authorities publish an administrative plan, which details the policies governing the operation of these facilities. They also have records on the private property owners who are participants in the voucher program.
The files on individuals who receive housing assistance funds or live in publicly owned buildings are maintained by the local housing authority. By law, access is limited – the recipient or their parents or guardians have explicit access – but practices may vary.
What types of housing authority records have you been able to obtain and what did you find there?
Formal disciplinary actions against a California Emergency Medical Technician will now be available as a public record, thanks to AB 2917, signed by the governor today.
AB 2917 will provide the public with with certification and licensure information and create an EMT registry, specified by Section 1797.117 of the Health and Safety Code.
The legislation details the personal information that will be a public record, which is similar to that which is available on other California professional licensees.
The information made available to the public through the centralized registry system shall include all of the following data elements: the full name of every individual who has been issued an EMT-I or EMT-II certificate or EMT-P license, the name of the entity that issued the certificate or license, the certificate or license number, the date of issuance of the license or certificate, and the license or certificate status.
Attorney disciplinary records are organized on the state level and, if online, are usually found at the state bar or state court. The court division that is responsible for investigating attorney misconduct may be called “Office of Disciplinary Counsel”, “Disciplinary Board” or “Disciplinary Commission”. And that’s just one of the many reasons why you should subscribe to a public records directory. CourtPort is one that’s tailored for the legal community.
A directory of lawyer disciplinary agencies can be found at the American Bar Association site. Some of these links go to the bar association’s home page, because that state doesn’t have lawyer discipline records online. Or, in the case of the Alaska Bar Association, the search page is buried and the disciplinary actions are mixed with the general member directory.
The Arizona Bar separates discipline reports by year. If I knew whether the lawyer was disciplined and the year this site would be sufficient. With that annoyance in mind, I developed a Google custom search engine of disciplined attorneys. This enables you to search, for example, the Arizona Bar Association records for all years. Also, search across multiple states at once — helpful if you don’t know the state in which the disciplinary action may have occurred. I include several sites that index appellate and Supreme Court records, which may make the results too cluttered, but will catch some cases related to attorney misconduct claims that aren’t at the state sites.
Not all states are included. Many don’t have directories that could be configured to work with another search engine. Let me know if you find a way to search the excluded sites.
Is the Disciplined Attorneys search engine helpful?
Selected Laws Governing the Disclosure of
Customer Phone Records by Telecommunications
Carriers, a recently released Congressional Research Service report, summarizes the laws, legislation and congressional actions related to telephone call log records. The Federation of American Scientists has a database of some of these CRS reports, which are selectively released by members of Congress.