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Rolly: Mormon genealogy site vulnerable to identity theft?

Published April 3, 2012 11:06 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

After reading about the controversy surrounding the LDS Church's practice of baptisms for the dead, a Salt Lake City man checked the church's International Genealogical Index to see if anyone had done ordinance work for his deceased parents without his permission.

He found their names, their birth and death dates and their Social Security numbers.

Talk about being ripe for identity theft.

After I contacted LDS Church spokesman Scott Trotter, and he checked the names, which indeed included the Social Security numbers, he alerted officials and said steps have been taken to fix the problem.

"Open records of deceased persons are essential to family history research and actually help safeguard against identity theft by removing the cloak of anonymity that is used for fraudulent purposes," Trotter said. "Unfortunately, misuse of information may have occurred with Social Security numbers contained in the Social Security Death Master File."

He says FamilySearch has suspended the publication of Social Security numbers from that file "to prevent fraudulent use."

Wishful thinking? • Some Utahns, mostly in areas of Salt Lake City and south Davis County, may have thought the Utah Legislature secretly passed a bill privatizing liquor when they recently received their weekly advertising flier from Smith's Food and Drug.

The flier listed a number of discount deals for selected products, including Apothic red or white wine, Clos Du Bois Chardonnay, Carolans Irish Cream and Pendleton Whiskey.

That must have caused a run on the stores.

Smith's spokeswoman Marsha Gilford tells me it was a mistake by the printer, which is in California and directly mails the ads to residents. Smith's has stores in seven Western states and most, unlike Utah, sell wine and liquor in grocery stores, hence the mistake.

"Once we learned about the mistake, we didn't feel the need for a retraction because we figured most Utahns would know they couldn't buy those things in the stores anyway," she said.

When pigs fly • Here's a switch. A Wyoming couple recently had to make a long-distance beer run — to Utah.

Normally, it's the other way around.

But when Tiffanie Petertson-Hope, of Evanston, heard an ad on the radio for Red as Hell Ale, which is a collaboration of the Radio from Hell team on X96-FM in Salt Lake City and Wasatch Brewers, she had to try it.

She emailed the brewery to inquire about shipping, but there were too many legal entanglements. She called establishments in Evanston, but they didn't carry it. So she and her husband drove to Salt Lake City where they purchased the heavy ale from a state liquor store.

"I never thought I'd be making a beer run to Utah," she wrote to the Wasatch Brewery folks. "But it's really quite tasty."

Sounds alike • In response to my recent column about senior citizens getting asked for ID when trying to buy alcohol in state liquor stores or restaurants, Mary Johnson remembers her teenage son getting asked for ID once in a grocery store.

He was buying a six-pack of root beer.







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