Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Social security numbers

Shelby asked me a great question that I didn’t want to put off so I am posting it today and I will start the PowerPoint slides tomorrow.

Shelby asks:
”I have a copy of my grandmother's death cert and it has her SSN on it.  Should I black that out before uploading or does it really matter after someone is deceased?”

That is a great question because it so happens that the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) is in the news right now.  Basically, lawmakers want to take the SSDI away from researchers completely because they feel that it is an avenue for identity theft.  Genealogists rebutted saying that all they need to do is redact the social security numbers because researchers don’t need that information anyway .  The lawmakers don’t think that is good enough so they want to remove the entire thing.  They have already placed increased restrictions on the SSDI.

Most of the repositories that have the SSDI online have redacted the numbers in good faith which of course makes no difference whatsoever to genealogists.  That is the whole point.  If you had asked me this question a couple of years ago I would have said not to worry about it but because of the political climate right now I would black it out.

For more information about what is going on with the SSDI, please read Judy Russell, CG’s blog post Getting Involved on the SSDI.

Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis

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