Genealogists who use the free online SSDI (Social Security Death Index) to find ancestors may have a tougher hunt ahead.
In the past, genealogists could access the SSDI through numerous websites - Ancestry.com, Rootsweb.com, GenealogyBank and others.
But concerns arose that the Social Security Numbers given with the SSDI were being used in Identity Theft scams and U.S. Senators blitzed these websites to request that they stop displaying this information. In the face of mounting pressure, many of the genealogy websites caved.
This week, many of the sites withdrew access entirely (Rootsweb for example withdrew the SSDI completely) or blocked access so only paying members could view the details. Ancestry blocked access by putting the database behind its subscrption membership wall and will no longer provide the Social Security numbers for anyone who died in the previous 10 years. Genealogy Bank still has free access to the SSDI but you must register with a name and email to view the data.
It seems quite a leap to me to make the assumption that thieves were using the SSDI to gather Social Security Numbers. I'm quite sure they found much faster and easier ways to get these numbers. And so the genealogy community is forced to watch as the SSDI slowly disappears, either behind closed membership walls or removed completely. Is this yet another example of a few bad apples spoiling it for the rest of us (genealogists)?
For more articles on this topic see Website stops displaying Social Security numbers for recently dead and Stealing from the dead.
Caveat: the two articles above from ABC News are in favour of the SSDI being removed. I expect to see other bloggers discussing this topic from a different point of view than ABC so keep your eyes open for other articles