Dame Elizabeth Taylor's Social Security Number was 560-26-1681

That was obtained free and completely legally and in about 10 seconds from the Social Security Death Index. Anybody who is deceased and who has ever drawn Social Security benefits on their own or another person’s account or whose benefits were drawn by somebody other than themself is on there. Liz’s buddy Michael Jackson’s SSN was 303-62-5728- it’s on there because his kids draw SS on his account. If I died today I would be on there because I drew SS after my father died when I was a teenager. If you’d like to search it for the names of anybody from celebrities to relatives to random strangers knock yourself out-

Social Security Death Index

My reason for posting is because I’m not up to a BBQ PIT thread but I’m frustrated over the existence fo the SSDI and the stupidity of Alabama politicians. In an age of major identity theft and high-tech fraud the Social Security Numbers as well as the addresses and other identifying info are just- there- completely free and available for anybody to get to and completely legal. When you think of how complicated an estate Michael Jackson and or Elizabeth Taylor left there’s any number of conceivable ways that having their SSN- just weeks after their death- could cause havoc in the hands of the unscrupulous.

My irritation though is with politicians. I’ve written my legislators and my Congressmen and a U.S. senator trying to get this taken down or at least put a, say, 5 year gag on SSNs. Really I’m not sure why a person who’s not an heir to the estate or otherwise legally involved with it would ever need to know a decedent’s social security number- a biographer of Liz Taylor couldn’t exactly make it fascinating- but I can think of things that people with NO business could do with it if legal issues weren’t really a dealbreaker. At the same time it would be a nice way for a politician to get their name in the press and do something good by saying “This is a legal invasion of privacy loophole and I won’t stand for it cluttering up our internets”, wouldn’t you think?

But what I get back, and I got one today, is a form letter saying- paraphrased but essentially- “Thank you for your concern about whatever the hell it was, identity theft is bad, vote for me in 2012, I love families and freedom”. They don’t seem to take the least bit of interest or even understand what I’m talking about. Perhaps if I were to include the SSNs of their dead parents they’d notice but that would seem a bit stalkery.

Anyway, mundane, pointless, shared.

It hardly matters that the SSN appears on the SSDI. By law, the SSN appears on death certificates, and anyone can request an informational copy of a death certificate, at least in California, where Liz Taylor and Michael Jackson died.

That’s a state by state thing. In Alabama you have to be a member of the immediate family or have a legal documentation to get a copy of a death certificate issued in the past 30 years. Though I’m against the SSN being available on that as well.

I love the story of the Lifelock guy who a couple of years ago had the commercial with his SSN plastered on a truck to show how good his company was. It got stolen and used for identity theft numerous timesfrom that commercial.

What does that have to do with dead person’s SS#?

  1. He’ll be dead one day (presumably).

  2. He’s a guy who made his bones boasting that he can protect anybody from having their identity stolen and he’s the victim of identity theft for making his SSN known in a stupid commercial

  3. It’s not just the living that need to worry about identity theft. If you’ve ever had to settle an estate you know that you have to whip the deceased’s SSN out 924 times over the course of a few months. If an estate was large enough, and especially if it wasn’t somebody as famous as an Elizabeth Taylor or a Michael Jackson, and really ideally an intestate situation or one where the heirs weren’t local, there are any number of ways you could use a SSN (along with other information that’s too easy to find) feloniously: fraudulent claims against the estate (bills can come in for over a year for final illness alone), using it for a credit card (which people can totally get for a dead person), access to a bank account, etc…

I could go into much greater specifics but don’t want to give anybody ideas. I will say that once you have the SSN and some other info that’s easily found, the main thing you need is balls to pull some serious mischief. Stopping SSNs from being as easy as typing in “Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor” into a free genealogy website would harm few if any and potentially stop massive postmortem identity fraud.