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SSNs Removed from Genealogy Sites

IDENTITY THEFT—U.S.

December 15, 2011

In a move to help curb identity theft, makers of the largest commercial genealogy website have removed Social Security numbers (SSNs) from recently deceased individuals, The Republic reports. Noting that "there was some sensitivity" around the company's practice of releasing the SSNs, an Ancestry.com spokesman said the company has made a "purposeful decision" to cease disclosing the sensitive data. A recent investigation showed that identity thieves obtained the SSNs of the recently deceased and used them to file fraudulent tax returns in order to collect refunds. Earlier this month, four lawmakers wrote a letter to the five largest online genealogy companies asking them to remove SSNs. So far, two have acquiesced. 
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