Budget Deal Contains Casey-Backed Plan to Crackdown on Identity Theft
|Targeted News Service|
Today, U.S. Senator
The budget agreement will empower the Secretary of Commerce to restrict access to the Death Master file and better protect the identities of recently deceased persons.
"The passing on of a loved one is a significant hardship for a family to deal with that shouldn't be compounded by the threat of identity theft," Senator Casey said. "This is a significant step forward that will protect the identities of the recently deceased and will work to ensure that their families are not preyed upon by criminals."
Death Master File
In 1980, SSA entered into a consent agreement to release death information following a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. This information is available to purchase online through the
Section 203 of the budget would establish a program under which the Secretary of Commerce restricts access to the information contained on the Death Master File (DMF) for a three-year period beginning on the date of the individual's death, except to those who are certified under a program to be established by the Secretary of Commerce. Under the program, those who have a fraud prevention interest or other legitimate need for the information and agree to maintain the information under safeguards similar to those required of Federal agencies that receive return information, as described in section 6103(p)(4) of title 26 of the United States Code, may apply for certification. The Secretary of Commerce reviews the eligibility of applicants, examines safeguards for protecting the information and conducts audits of certified entities to assure compliance with safeguards.
Data from the death master file allows perpetrators to file fraudulent returns impersonating a deceased taxpayer. A recent audit of the 2011 tax year identified 19,000 fraudulent returns from recently deceased taxpayers.
Many additional fraudulent returns from deceased taxpayers may go undetected since no legitimate taxpayer may ever attempt to file again with the decedent's Social Security Number.
These returns contribute to the growing problem of identity theft in tax fraud. Overall, the
Under the budget provision, a penalty of
The penalty may not exceed
The full text of Casey's 2012 letter to the
I am writing to urge you to move forward with proposed changes to the
The accessibility of the death master file appears to be inadvertently facilitating tax fraud. While the information released in this file has important legitimate uses, it has also been used to file fraudulent tax returns under the names of deceased taxpayers. For
This year, as of
The use of identity theft to file fraudulent returns has grown substantially. According to the
These numbers only represent returns that were detected by the
Over the past few years, the
It is our understanding that the
Identity theft creates a significant hardship for many American families, and robs our Nation of taxpayer dollars at a time when we face serious fiscal challenges. Addressing this issue will require a significant, coordinated effort. Preventing the widespread publication of deceased citizens' vital records is an important first step with broad support. I urge you to limit access to the death master file as soon as possible.
TNS 30TacordaCheng-131218-4582042 30TacordaCheng
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