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Social Security is an open source for identity thieves

Dec 01, 2011 Matt Roesly

The Social Security Administration's Death Master File has become a source for identity theft and fraud. Criminals are able to access the database through the internet, assume the identities of the deceased and file for tax returns fraudulently, The Republic reports. According to the Internal Revenue Service, approximately 350,000 false returns were distributed for a total of $1.25 billion. Small businesses may benefit by learning from the mistakes of the government and create more stringent identification verification requirements before distributing goods, services or checks. An increasingly unfortunate occurrence is the theft of deceased children's Social Security numbers. Criminals obtain this information and claim the child as a dependent on their tax return and receive increased refunds on tax returns. Mark Hinkle, spokesperson for Social Security, informed the news source his agency doesn't have control of the information revealed to the public. "The information that is released via the public (Death Master File) is the information that must be disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act," said Hinkle. "Congress would need to amend FOIA laws in order for us to limit the amount of information that we are obligated to make public under the law."