California Congresswoman takes aim at online access to the Social Security Death Index

The California congressional representative from San Diego, Susan Davis, has sponsored HR 5494, Identity Theft Protection for the Deceased Act. The bill would require the credit bureaus flag the files of the deceased for whom they have records in order to reduce the chances that the decedent’s SSN will be used to open new accounts. Reasonable enough.

In her comments on the legislation, Davis alludes to the SSDI, a free online data source of social security numbers, dates of birth and dates of death, which she claims could be useful to fraudsters who “can collect this information with relative ease giving them a study supply of Social Security Numbers, dates of birth, and the information they need to commit these horrible crimes.” The bill could yet be amended to prohibit the dissemination of the Social Security Death Index by the Social Security Administration. The data is made available, for free, on the Internet by various outlets including, RootsWeb.

The local San Diego broadcast TV station,, has taken it upon itself to request that the SSA remove the Death Index from its Web site.


2 thoughts on “California Congresswoman takes aim at online access to the Social Security Death Index

  1. I totally agree with the previous comment poster.

    There is NO justifiable need to do this to “protect the deceased”‘s identity.
    I realize that, like Louisiana, Florida and Chicago, many deceased people still vote in elections, and probably for this congresswoman, but that is not need enough.

  2. I viewed the articles associated with the posting, but didn’t see any specific cases of identity theft that occurred as a result of social security numbers being used from the Death Index. How many of this incidents have there been? I agree with the intent of the proposed law requiring the credit bureaus to quickly identify those files associated with a deceased individual. I do not agree with the complete removal of the names and SSN. Perhaps the privacy advocates are right; the entire social security number of a deceased individual should not be disclosed to the “general public.” At the very least, the last 4 digits of the SSN could be truncated, but to eliminate them completely from all databases will cause problems for those who have a legitimate need for the information.

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