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Mr. CASEY. Mr. President, echoing the comments of my colleague from Florida, I am pleased that the budget includes language to address the fraud that is perpetrated with information from the Death Master File. Tax fraud is a large and growing problem. We know that. In 2012, for example, the IRS reported that they identified over 1.2 million identity theft returns. As of June 2013, they identified 1.6 million for this year. Thousands of these cases involve the identities of deceased taxpayers. A recent audit of the 2011 tax year identified 19,000 fraudulent returns from recently deceased taxpayers. Under current practice, for $10, criminals can purchase the full name, Social Security number, date of birth, and date of death of a deceased citizen or legal resident.
As a member of the Finance Committee, I have worked with my colleagues to address this issue. I am pleased to see the language limiting access to the Death Master File in the budget deal.
As Commerce begins its rulemaking, it is essential to strike the correct balance. The reality is that the Death Master File is used by companies across Pennsylvania and the Nation to prevent fraud and provide other essential consumer protections. Banks, investment companies, insurers, and numerous other businesses run this file to ensure the identity of those accessing their services. Striking the correct balance in the regulatory process is critical to ensuring the continued legitimate use of this information.
Businesses and those who contract for assistance with fraud prevention and other businesses must maintain access to the file. Furthermore, access must remain available as those regulations are promulgated.
In short, as a certification program is set up, it is important that we get it right. The Death Master File is critical to fraud prevention and must remain available to legitimate users. To that point, I ask the Senator from Washington, the distinguished chairwoman, is it the intention of the Bipartisan Budget Act for the Commerce Department to seek input from stakeholders as it creates the certification program to ensure legitimate users maintain access to the file?
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