Been a while, sorry

Well, it has been a while since I have even looked at the blog. To be truthful, I actually forgot about it. But thanks to a wonderful contributor at FindAGrave I was reminded that it exists and I have been rather remiss in updates. Will see what I can add to help folks out or pass on genealogy news.

The Social Security Death Index is at Risk

It is time to get motivated and do something to not only protect a vital resource for genealogists, but also to help in PREVENTING identity theft.

The Social Security Death Index (SSDI) is a list of deceased individuals that is regularly updated and released through a subscription program with the federal government. The SSDI lists over 89 million people who have died along with their name, date of birth, date of death, social security number and last place of residence or benefits received. Access to this list is available at a large number of free and subscription web sites.

Now you may think that making this information available would result in a large amount of identity theft and fraud. The thing is this is list is used by credit agencies, banks, insurance agencies, medical professionals, governmental agencies and many other businesses to prevent fraud and identity theft. When someone supplies a name and social security number it is very easy to check that number against the SSDI to determine if the social security number belongs to someone who is deceased, thus preventing fraud and identity theft. The SSDI is also an invaluable aide to the amateur and professional genealogist.

It has probably come to your attention that bill H.R.3475, entitled Keeping IDs Safe Act of 2011, has been introduced in House of Representatives by representative Sam Johnson of Texas and cosponsored by Representatives Rick Berg of North Dakota, Kevin Brady of Texas, Wally Herger of California, Lynn Jenkins of Kansas, Kenny Marchant of Texas, Aaron Schock of Illinois, and Patrick Tiberi of Ohio. This bill will effectively shut off access to the SSDI to the public, including genealogists. (http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d112:h.r.3475:)

The reason cited for the bill is the identity theft of children who have died. The media and the government have focused on the SSDI as the cause of all this identity theft, a study by ID Analytics released on September 20, 2011, shows that of all the children’s identities stolen, over 500,000 of them have been by a parent, not because of the SSDI. Genealogist Megan Smolenyak went on a search for statistics showing the number of children whose identities were stolen because of the SSDI and was only able to find an article that listed 28 children overall. (http://www.capecodonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20111127/NEWS/111270337)

It can be reasonably assumed there are more than 28 children whose identities have been stolen because of the SSDI, but the number I obscenely less than the half million stolen by their own parents.

CyLab atCarnegieMellonUniversityreleased a study this year entitled “Child Identity Theft; New Evidence Indicates Identity Thieves Are Targeting Children For Unused Social Security Numbers.” This research study shows that 10.2% of children had their social security number stolen versus only 0.2% of adults. Out of all the stolen identities they discuss not a single one was from the SSDI. (http://cbsmiami.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/child-identity-theft.pdf)

Obviously the dead are not as good a resource as the media makes them out to be. The living, now that is an entirely different matter.

Almost daily there are news stories of people’s identities being sold or stolen through data breaches, lost or stolen computers, and even from our own government employees selling the information.

Obviously the number of identity thefts through the use of the SSDI pales in comparison to just these three stories.

What to do…

We need to contact our representatives in Congress and let them know we are against H.B. 3475. Let them know that they are looking in the wrong direction in regards to identity theft. The SSDI is an efficient tool against identity theft. The National Technical Information Service which releases the SSDI says it best on their website:

 The SSA Death Master File is used by leading government, financial, investigative, credit reporting organization, medical research and other industries to verify death as well as to prevent fraud and comply with the USA Patriot Act. (http://www.ntis.gov/products/ssa-dmf.aspx)

 Here is a list of the contact information for each of the sponsoring and cosponsoring representatives.

REPRESENTATIVE SAM JOHNSON (TX)

Washington DC Office
1211 Longworth Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
(202) 225-4201

Texas Office
2929 N. Central Expy, Ste240
Richardson, Texas 75080
(972) 470-0892

REPRESENTATIVE RICK BERG (ND)

Washington DC Office
323 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-2611

Bismark Office
220 E Rosser Ave.
328 Federal Building
Bismarck, ND 58501
Phone: (701) 224-0355

Fargo Office
170 43rd Street S
Fargo, ND 58104
Phone: 701-235-9760

REPRESENTATIVE KEVIN BRADY (TX)

Washington DC Office
301 Cannon Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone:(202)225-4901
Fax:(202)225-5524

Conroe District Office
(Serving Montgomery County)
200 River Pointe, Suite 304
Conroe, Texas 77304
Phone:(936) 441-5700
Fax:(936) 441-5757

Huntsville District Office
(Serving Walker, San Jacinto, Trinity, Polk, and Liberty Counties)
1202 Sam Houston Avenue, Suite 8
Huntsville, Texas 77340
Phone: (936) 439-9532
Fax: (936) 439-9546

Orange District Office
(Serving Orange, Newton, Jasper, Tyler, and Hardin Counties)
420 Green Ave
Orange, Texas 77630
Phone: (409) 883-4197
Fax: (409) 883-6550

REPRESENTATIVE WALLY HERGER (CA)

Washington Office
242 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-3076
Fax: (202) 226-0852

Chico Office
2595 Ceanothus Ave #182
Chico, CA 95973
Phone: (530) 893-8363
Fax: (530) 893-8619

Redding Office
280 Hemsted Drive, Suite 105
Redding, CA 96002
Phone: (530) 223-5898
Fax: (530) 223-5897

REPRESENTATIVE LYNN JENKINS (KS)

Washington DC Office
1122 Longworth HOB
Washington, D.C. 20515
Phone: (202) 225-6601
Fax: (202) 225-7986

Pittsburg Office
1001 N. Broadway Street#C
Pittsburg, KS 66762
Phone: (620) 231-LYNN (5966)
Fax: (620) 231-5972

Topeka Office
3550 SW 5th Street
Topeka, KS 66606
Phone: (785) 234-LYNN (5966)
Fax: (785) 234-5967

REPRESENTATIVE KENNY MARCHANT (TX)

Washington DC Office
1110 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-6605
Fax: (202) 225-007

Texas Office
9901 E. Valley Ranch Pkwy., Ste. 3035
Irving, TX 75063
Phone: (972) 556-0162
Toll Free: (866) 213-3803
Fax: (972) 409-9704

REPRESENTATIVE AARON SCHOCK (IL)

Washington DC Office
328 Cannon HOB
Washington, D.C. 20515
Phone: (202) 225-6201
Fax: (202) 225-9249

Peoria District Office
100 N.E. Monroe, Room 100
Peoria, IL 61602
Phone: (309) 671-7027
Fax: (309) 671-7309

Springfield District Office
235 S. Sixth Street
Springfield, IL 62701
Phone: (217) 670-1653
Fax: (217) 670-1806

Jacksonville District Office
209 West State Street
Jacksonville, IL 62650
Phone: (217) 245-1431
Fax: (217) 243-6852

REPRESENTATIVE PATRICK TIBERI (OH)

Washington DC Office
106 Cannon HOB
Washington, D.C. 20515
Phone: (202) 225-5355
Fax: (202) 226-4523

Ohio Office
3000 Corporate Exchange Dr, Ste 310
Columbus, Ohio 43231
Phone: (614) 523-2555
Fax: (614) 818-0887

Gettin Started

Well, I am starting this blog in hopes of documenting my research and the joy I have in performing that research in genealogy. I have never blogged before and I hope to be able to keep up with this thing. With that in mind…

Welcome Y’all!!!

I began my genealogy research about, oh, 20 years ago or so. Not sure why I started it other than I simply like to do research. I had no idea what I was doing nor how to go about it, so, like any other fool, I just started.

I began with what I knew. My parents, grandparents and some of my great grandparents. I began to look through books and then I discovered that wonderful thing called Federal Census Records, but you know what? All my family were still young enough and the latest census records were from 1910. Still I persevered.

One day, after learning about and figuring how to use the soundex system I decided to peruse through a microfilm. I found my great grandmother, Gladys Marion Wilbur, listed on it. All I can say is the elation I felt after seeing the name of a family member on an official record from 70 years prior, well, it was unbelievable. Even after all these years and literally tons of records and thousands of hours of research that very first find still steals my breath and makes me feel giddy.

Now, after starting from scratch several times due to lack of documentation (something I will discuss another time) I have 2036 people listed in my family tree. At one time I had over 5000 but after deciding to start over (for lack of documentation – see above) I now have all of the people well documented and where they belong. I have been able to document at least four grandfathers who fought in the War of Northern Aggression (they were Confederate if you didn’t know) and one grandfather that helped settle Texas by coming with Stephen Austin in 1831. I also have a lead on another grandfather that may have fought in the Revolution and died at Valley Forge, but that is an ancestor I am having a difficult time documenting.

My love for the hunt of my forebears led to the name of my website and has fueled research for other folks. There are currently 10 family trees I am working on for various people and I also do research for others who just need a little help. My goal is to eventually become a Certified Genealogist, and one day I will be.

With the research skills I have developed over the years at the University of Hard Knocks I decided to help others out. I work on documenting cemeteries for FindAGrave.com, help find family members of those who have died at Unclaimed Persons, transcribe records for Family Search, am working on getting the Conroe Community Cemetery recognized as a historical cemetery as well as clean it up and restore it, and I do volunteer research for many people across the country.

I have found that people who do genealogy research are all just absolutely wonderful, helpful, insightful, and always a professional to others who are also doing research.

Join me as I reveal this wonderful world of family research, some of its problems, some solutions, and just plain neat things.