Thursday, November 17, 2005

ACROSS MY DESK: "Family Search Scam" - Oh, Really Now?

NOTE: The following article appeared on Leland Meitzler's Genealogy Blog:

Leland is the editor of HERITAGE QUEST MAGAZINE, a well-regarded publication/
All inquiries should be addressed to him at:


Family Search Scam" - Oh, Really Now?
By Leland Meitzler 11/15/2005 9:51 pm
Our access to the online versions of the Social Security Death Index may be in danger if we don’t speak up and let our voices be heard.

I copied the following paragraph directly from the KSTU Fox 13 website today. I don’t know whether our Attorney General, Mark Shurtleff, here in Utah is just uninformed - or if our local Fox affiliate is just trying to make a story where one does not exist. This "story" ran a number of times today on KSTU here in the Salt Lake valley.

Family Search Scam
Are family ancestory websites helping identity thieves? Utah’s Attorney General thinks so. There are millions of family search sites on-line and included with many individual names are also social security numbers. The state attorney general’s office says sites like these are feeding ID thieves. In Utah, where identity theft is a booming business, sites like these are not helping. The attorney general’s office says it will continue to try and get family search sites to avoid giving full social security numbers.

What the heck is the issue? I really don’t know that anyone is putting up social security numbers of live folks at all. Sure - the social security death index is online, hosted by Familysearch, Rootsweb, Ancestry and even the Washington State Secretary of State. However, the last I knew that was public-domain data sold by the federal government itself.

Folks - I am coming to believe that we can very quickly lose access to many of the records that we now take for granted. And this is all happening in the name of national security as well as the reduction of identity theft.

The sad part about all this is that there is little or no evidence that the terrorists and identity thieves are using our open records against us. Come on - show me the evidence. Show me the evidence that taking more rights away from us is going to actually make us more secure. And if it really does - is it worth it?

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