NTIS Issues Interim Final Rule on Access to Death Master File (March 26, 2014)
The National Technical Information Service (NTIS) today has issued an interim final rule establishing a certification program for access to the Social Security Death Master File (DMF). The DMF is a tool used by many industries as a means to thwart fraud.
“In the prepaid industry, many issuers and program managers screen their new accounts against the DMF as one tool to identify fraudulent accounts,” Terry Maher, a partner at Baird Holm LLP, tells Paybefore. “If an issuer sees a new card account for a person on the DMF, it is a pretty clear indication that the account is fraudulent.”
Concerned that identity thieves were using names from the DMF to file false tax returns with the IRS, Congress directed the Secretary of Commerce, under Section 203 of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, to block access to the DMF to all entities not certified by the Commerce Department. The rule also includes provisions for periodic and unscheduled audits, as well as penalties if DMF information is used not in accordance with the act.
Earlier this month, the NTIS indicated that access to the DMF would cease today. However, after receiving comments from more than 70 industries and trade associations that the move would deny them an important tool for their businesses, the NTIS “came up with the interim final rule as a means to provide a temporary certification program to allow a party to have continued access to the DMF until final rules are issued and applications processed,” Maher says. Companies should apply for certification immediately, he suggests.
Comments on the interim final rule are due by 5 p.m. EDT, April 25, 2014. Written comments must be submitted to John Hounsell by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or in paper form at NTIS, 5301 Shawnee Road, Alexandria, Va., 22312.