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WASHINGTON-House Financial Services Chairman Michael G. Oxley (R-Ohio), Vice Chairwoman Marge Roukema (R-N.J.), and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairwoman Sue Kelly (R-N.Y.) revealed a government loophole that makes identity theft easier, and they want the Social Security Administration (SSA) to do something about it. The most vulnerable identities are those of the deceased, highlighted by the recent terrorist attacks on Washington, D.C. and New York City. A man being held on suspicion of involvement in the September 11 hijacking attacks used the Social Security number of a New Jersey woman who died in 1991. “Tightening up practices at the SSA will help to foil common thieves stealing identities to obtain illegal credit cards, as well as brutal terrorists who may be plotting something much worse,” Roukema said. Oxley, Roukema, and Kelly wrote a letter calling on the SSA to modernize its information gathering and distribution methods, which take more than a month to complete, according to the lawmakers, who are seeking immediate and permanent deactivation of Social Security numbers. According to a press release, the SSA uses conventional mail every month to send a cartridge of death information to another federal agency, which copies it and sends it again through `snail mail’ to subscribers, such as credit bureaus and financial institutions. The entire process takes over a month and, in the meantime, those Social Security numbers and accounts remain active. “For several months, the Committee on Financial Services has investigated the process of collecting and distributing information on deaths and is concerned that the current notification system may be outdated, inefficient, and untimely,” the letter to Acting Social Security Administrator Larry Massanari read.

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