SS# listed. Why would someone add a person's social security number? Is there any need to have it t
edited September 28, 2020 in Suggest an Idea
Lynne Stanley said: Occasionally, I come across a person's page that has their social security # shown. I've seen this in the "Other Information" area. It concerns me the this bit of information is added to someone's page because there is so much identity fraud these days. Should I be concerned? Is it okay to delete the SS# off their page?
Tom Huber said: No need to worry. If the person has been deceased more than three years, then the SS number is public knowledge from the SSA Death Index.
If the person has not been dead for more than three years, then I would delete it and contact the person who entered it, letting them know that since the person has been dead less than three years, the information should remain private until it is published in the Social Security Administrations Death Index.0
Juli said: The whole "three years after death" thing is a huge mistake: it makes it possible for a fraudster to use a dead person's identity for three years without any fear of detection.0
Paul said: Tom
There's lots of stuff that is "public knowledge", but FamilySearch does not allow it to be recorded it openly in Family Tree. I agree with Juli's sentiments - publishing details of the recently deceased can be just as undesirable as showing personal details of the living - much of whose personal details are also in the public domain, of course.0
Tom Huber said: The three years after death is not something that FamilySearch did. It was done by the U.S. Social Security Administration, primarily to prevent criminals from grabbing and using a recently-deceased individual's Social Security Number. This was instituted a number of years ago, before the Social Security Administration issued new cards with a number other than a person's SS number on them.0
Adrian Bruce said: Except, of course, the whole purpose of publishing the list was to inform people that these SSNs belonged to deceased people and therefore should not be used by anyone purporting to be living!0
Jeff Wiseman said: I have to ask the question, why is recording a SS# even useful in the FSFT? Just because it is available in the historic records doesn't mean it has to be duplicated over into FS. I mean, what use is it? If there is no useful aspect to it except for nefarious activities then I wouldn't think it needs to be there.
I know how big the back yard at my grandfather's home was when he was a boy. Should I be recording that on his person record? (Maybe if I pictures of him in it)
Yea, my personal opinion is that it can be deleted. However, it is a bit moot since it'll always be available in the change history log for that person (but at least you'd need to know that it was there in order to go looking for it :-)0
Tom Huber said: The SSN only means one thing -- that they were enrolled in the SSA program. Beyond that, it has no meaning at all, and after thinking about what you wrote, I tend to agree with you, Jeff.
Erika Campbell said: Someone's SS# should never be added, period. It is a personal number and does not need to be recorded in an family tree.
Adrian Bruce said: Are there no occasions when an SSN from one document can be used to locate another document? I have this vague idea that was what I did with my GG-aunt because she'd changed her name and I needed the parental details off the original application to prove it was her.
But, even if it was so, there isn't any particular reason to keep it on display - it was just an intermediate item, that could be recorded in the notes about why this data referred to her, despite the name change.0
Juli said: Yes, exactly: the SSA's decision has exactly the opposite effect from the one desired. If people could check the SSDI and see that the person applying for credit died last month, they could deny the application and alert the authorities. In the current setup, the credit card gets issued and the criminal can look forward to three happy years of fraud with zero threat of detection.0
Juli said: There are a very limited number of record types that include the SSN, so it seldom comes up as a point of identification, but in those rare cases, it can be quite useful.0
crhansen said: We live in a public world. What if all privacy were to disappear for everyone? Would we not be better people?
The SS# is a unique identifier that would separate incorrect merges and eliminate duplicates.0
Jeff Wiseman said: Crhanson,
Welcome to the Feedback forum. FS employees read all postings here although they may or may not reply to them. I am not a FS employee though.
Actually a SS# is NOT a unique identifier. It is only a unique identifier for LIVING persons. Some time after a person dies, their old number will get re-assigned to someone else who is living (and I won't even go into the issue of duplicates by identity theft).
Also separating incorrect merges using SS# would be even more problematic than what we have. Incorrect merges come from records that are thought to be duplicates but are not. People making those incorrect assumptions are the same that would assign incorrect SS#s to given PIDs.
Also, many incorrect merges occur when families with similar names in one country get confused with families in another. SS#s only apply to individuals that they have been assigned to in the United States. So it would do nothing to eliminate issues with a lot of those bad merges.
And even if we were to be supporting SS#s in the database, of the over 1.3 BILLION names that are already there in the database, only an extremely tiny number of those would have actually had them in the first place.0