Monday, October 28, 2013

Follow up to adding a citation to a document

Tracy made the following comment to the Adding a citation to a document blog post:

”I may be over cautious, but when I scan a Form SS-5, I scan the original in its entirety and then open in Paint and redact (black out) the first 5 digits of the SSN for privacy reasons. While the person is deceased, I do not want to give nefarious persons who may troll ancestry websites, blogs, etc. anything that they could use in an unscrupulous manner. Other than that I do the same as you've done here.”

I am sure that there are other readers that have the same concern as Tracy so I thought I would address it in another blog post instead of just answering Tracy in the comments.

There has been a lot of hype about the SS numbers in the news lately because the government is trying to take away genealogists' access to the death files claiming the high risk for identity theft. You might want to read this article by Dick Eastman, a highly regarded genealogist.   Commentary: Use the SSDI to Reduce Identity Theft

Having said that, I have started redacting SS numbers a bit but only because THEY ARE NOT NEEDED by genealogists, not because I fear any sort of identity theft.  Genealogists need the death index and they need SS-5s but they don't need the number.  As a matter of fact, that is the argument that genealogists have been trying to make to the SSA, give us the death index and the SS-5 but redact the numbers if you are that worried about it.

Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis


  1. Exactly, Michele. Thank you. I spoke in front of the San Diego Genealogical Society, of which I am a member, abut this very subject. Basically trying to garner support from the group to get involved and try to stop the government from denying us access to records we need.

  2. Michele, thank you for addressing my comment and concern. I completely agree with what you've said here.