Part 3 – DMF Paradigm – Countermeasures Taken

The previous articles in this series are found at:

Part 1 —  http://www.fgs.org/rpac/2015/01/09/the-death-master-file-paradigm-introduction/

Part 2 — http://www.fgs.org/rpac/2015/01/21/dmf-paradigm-part-2-what-we-thought-we-knew-in-2011/

Changes on Genealogical Websites

As the tax filing season opened in early 2011, the SSDI was freely accessible by the general public from a number of web sites, to include most of the major sites serving the genealogical community without requiring a subscription or login.  Several Senators, including members of the Senate Finance Committee, voiced their concerns in a December 1, 2011 letter addressed to the CEO of Ancestry.com Inc.12-1-11 Ancestry.com – Tim Sullivan and asked that they and other genealogical sites remove SSNs from their posting of the SSDI.  http://www.brown.senate.gov/newsroom/press/release/after-call-from-sen-brown-ancestrycom-removes-social-security-numbers-from-website-to-prevent-fraud

Ancestry.com and other genealogical web sites immediately took measures designed to prevent the abuse of their resources by thieves.  In addition to putting this data behind their subscription pay wall, Ancestry chose to conceal the SSN of the deceased for a period of time, even for their subscribers.  Other genealogical sites took similar measures. http://www.abc2news.com/dpp/news/local_news/investigations/website-stops-displaying-social-security-numbers-for-recently-dead

 

And the IRS Improves Their Use of Filters

Although we do not expect the Internal Revenue Service to describe in detail the use and coverage of their filters, it was clear that in CY 2011, their very limited review of TY 2010 returns claiming a refund did not use the DMF to flag returns for further scrutiny.

For Tax Year 2012, the information provided by the witnesses at the April 16, 2013 Senate Finance Committee hearing entitled “Tax Fraud and Tax ID Theft:  Moving Forward with Solutions” gave multiple reasons to be encouraged by the actions being taken to combat refund fraud and help victims of identity theft.  Their written statements are available at:  http://www.finance.senate.gov/hearings/hearing/?id=62739085-5056-a032-5281-4500bf4d4fb3  The testimony of Steven T. Miller, Acting Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service described a number of significant steps they have taken including (1)  much improved screening filters “to spot false returns before we process them and issue refunds”, (2)  expanded criminal investigations, and (3)  prosecution of the perpetrators.

Appropriate prosecution and sentencing of those perpetrating tax fraud related to identity theft has the potential of not only thwarting their predations but should serve as a deterrent to others tempted to follow their example.  This begins to look like progress.

 

Several additional posts addressing additional aspects of this topic are anticipated, including:

Part 4 – DMF Paradigm –  Analysis Begins

Part 5 – DMF Paradigm – Lessons Learned As Stakeholders Speak

Part 6 – DMF Paradigm — Suggested Paradigm Shifts

Part 7 — DMF Paradigm — Access, Preservation or Replacement Issue?

 

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