Monday, February 06, 2012

Stop ID Theft NOW using RPAC guidelines

It isn't access to public records such as birth, marriage or death records, or the Social Security Master Death Index that cause identity theft, now is it?

Tomorrow there will be a major announcement from RPAC and I'd like you to be primed and ready to assist. What is RPAC? "The genealogical community works together through The Records Preservation and Access Committee (RPAC), which today includes The National Genealogical Society (NGS), the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) and the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) as voting members.  The Association of Professional Genealogists (APG), the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG), the American Society of Genealogists (ASG), ProQuest and serve as participating members. RPAC meets monthly, and more often if needed, to advise the genealogical and historical communities, as well as other interested parties, on ensuring proper access to vital records, on means to effect legislation, and on supporting strong records preservation policies and practices." Source:

RPAC announces the “Stop ID Theft NOW!” Campaign 
What if:

 (1) The Social Security Death Index were no longer available online or

(2)   Birth certificates in every state were not made public for 125 years, nor death certificates, marriages and divorce records available until after 75 years?

These and similar proposals further limiting genealogical access to “public” records are actively being considered by policy-makers at the state and federal level.

The most recent example is the hearing held by the Social Security Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee held on 2 February and found at:

Recent posts here at the RPAC Blog at  give additional information.

We expect to launch a significant petition drive on Tuesday, the 7th of February. It will urge the Administration to take steps that should curtail the filing of fraudulent tax refund claims based upon identity theft from deceased infants and adults almost immediately.    Please plan to check back at the RPAC Blog at that time.

What can individual genealogists and local societies do?  In essence, our message is “Get Involved!”

Start by asking these two questions:

(1)  Do I know who my legislators (state & federal) are?

(2)  Do they know who I am?

OK, DearREADERS, tomorrow I'll let you know about the link to the petition drive, so you, your friends and neighbors can sign it.
Here's where to look for your Senators' contact info:

Here's where to look for your Congressman's contact info:

Be READY! Writing letters doesn't work any more. We'll be asked to sign the petition and to send an email and a fax to our senators and congressmen.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt     :)
Your friend in genealogy.


  1. Unless things have changed, it was my understanding that petitions are considered ONE voice of an opinion, regardless of how many signatures are contained. Has anyone researched to see if that is still how legislators view petitions?

  2. Oops, just saw the bottom notes. Just last week congressinal offices were telling us that faxes are generally considered to be spam and usually disregarded. That letters and email were most effective. Are we receiving mixed messages?

  3. I watched Jan Meisels Allen's interview as the spokesperson for RPAC.

    There are some differences from my experience in keeping records open in Massachusetts, dealing with NAPHSIS proposals for a Model Vital Records Act and federal legislation.

    My experience is that letters and phone calls still do matter, as do faxes and emails. Even though federal security measures may delay snail mail letters, I would suggest calling local legislators offices to see whether local mail is also delayed. Aides will also report the inquiries.

    There are two levels of contact needed. The hearing committee members by Feb 16 and the individual legislators before any vote takes place. The committee member contact information needs to be detailed by RPAC. Hopefully that will be spelled out before the rush to action.

    Petitions while symbolic are too broad to have an effect on specific legislators. Committee members brushed off genealogists speaking at the hearing and openly discounted their importance.

    Politicians pay attention to their voting constituents.

    Genealogists by and large are civic minded voters. Legislators need to be reminded of that as well as the number of people who are genealogists.

    Legislators know that for every squeaky wheel they actually hear from, there are multiples that are just quietly steaming - until they go to the voting booth again.

    In addition, there are FOUR bills affecting the SSDI that should be detailed as to yea or nay, rather than muddying the water with potential proposals by the NAPHSIS organization for the Model Vital Records changes at the state level or suggesting legislative language.

    Laws for fraud already exist. Government procedures should be updated for catching the criminals rather than harming the innocents who have been defrauded.

    The message should be simple. Only fix what is broken.

    Sharon Sergeant

    1. THANKS, Sharon, for the dialog on FB and on my blog about RPAC and the coming challenges with the SSDI and access to birth, marriage and death records. Chief Genealogical Officer for FamilySearch, David Rencher, CG, AG is on the RPAC committee and he spoke about these coming challenges during the RootsTech 2012 Bloggers Dinner. He passionately requested high priority support from the blogging community.

      Genealogists will have an impact on FB, Twitter, G+ and blogs can push the "Stop ID Theft NOW!" movement forward. Social media is how the larger Internet community got the word out about SOPA, which has thankfully been withdrawn from the table.

      Yesterday's notice from RPAC was merely a "prime the pump" blog post pointing to the official RPAC statement to be released today.