Credit Header Access and SSN Use
Threatened And How Yo Can Help

From NCISS

 

This is the third session of Congress where Representative Clay Shaw, R-FL,
has introduced the Social Security Number Privacy and Identity Theft Prevention
Act, or something similar to it. This bill could move rather quickly through
the process of enactment, because Rep. Shaw is a key member of the powerful
Ways and Means Committee and chairman of the Subcommittee on Social Security in
the House of Representatives. HR 2971 already has 36 bi-partisan cosponsors,
mostly Ways and Means Committee members. Rep. Shaw's staff has indicated
passage is a priority early in 2004.

Section 108 of HR 2971 would require anyone wishing to order a "credit
header" to obtain the written permission of the subject after disclosing their
intent to order the header. It applies the same rules that pertain to requesting a
credit report. If we don't know where the subjects are, how do we contact
them for their permission to order a header?

Section 107 of HR 2971 also would make it a crime to sell or purchase
someone's social security number. It is hard to imagine that this could be
implemented without broader exemptions than are contained in HR 2971 at the moment.
But we need you to write letters to your Congressperson to get their
attention. A sample letter is enclosed in this e-mail or you may go to the NCISS
website, www.nciss.org and pull up the Legislation page. Then cut and paste the
sample on your letterhead and mail a copy to Washington and the District
office of your Representative.

We know that by banding together and persevering, we can have a positive
effect on legislation. The repaired Fair Credit Reporting Act is proof of that.
But we must not rest because there is a reason they are called lawmakers.
Please send your letter to your Representative today. The address on the sample
letter will get it there in Washington, but you can pull up the district
office address and fax numbers by going to www.house.gov and plugging in your zip
code. It is best to send a fax and a letter to both the Washington and
District offices.

Also, please drop NCISS a short e-mail at mcclained@aol.com to let us know
you sent your letter. Thank you for your attention.
NCISS Legislative Committee


SAMPLE LETTER


Honorable ___________
House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
I am writing to express my concern with HR 2971, the Social Security Number
Privacy and Identity Theft Prevention Act of 2003.
Although many sections of the bill are meritorious, I'm very concerned that
Section 108 would drastically limit my company's ability to conduct lawful
investigations. The section would eliminate access to the non-financial
information attached to credit reports.
This non-financial "credit header" information (name, address, etc.) has been
an invaluable resource for investigators to locate witnesses, heirs, debtors,
and to employ in all manner of fraud and theft investigations. I urge that
Congress consider eliminating Section 108 of this bill or in the alternative
amend it to include exemptions for business to business use.
There are appropriate uses for credit header information which are critical
not only for private investigators but for attorneys, journalists, medical
researchers, insurance companies, self-regulatory bodies, as well as government
and law enforcement agencies. Header reports are used in fraud prevention, child
support enforcement, uniting separated families, locating heirs to estates,
locating pension fund beneficiaries, locating organ and bone marrow donors,
significant journalistic endeavors, apprehending criminals, aiding citizens in
obtaining access to public record information, and in assisting the very
individuals that this legislation seeks to protect.
I would also like to point out that many private investigators handle
criminal defense investigations, gathering evidence to assure a fair trial for those
accused of a crime. One of the primary and most cost-effective tools available
to locate witnesses is the credit header. Law enforcement agencies have NCIC
and many other means at their disposal. Surely, Congress cannot intend to deny
this critical investigative tool to the legal representatives of defendants.
Investigators are also concerned that Section 107, which prohibits the sale
of Social Security Numbers, would also deny us the data we need for the
purposes listed above. We agree that the display of SSNs to the general public should
be banned. But a broad prohibition against the sale of SSNs would have the
same impact as a loss of access to credit header information. We urge Congress
to amend the section to permit investigators and others with a legitimate need
for the information to continue to receive it.
Thank you for your consideration.