Con artists recently used online death records, including Ancestry.com and the D.C. property tax database, as well as in-person visits to search court records at local courthouses, to locate vulnerable properties where they could take over the home’s title without the real owners’ knowledge.
The homes included those left vacant, passed on to heirs after the owner’s death, or owned by elderly, nursing-home residents who didn’t understand the transactions taking place. The con artists then "sold" the homes to unsuspecting buyers. The "owners" appearing at settlement were not the rightful owners.
You can read more in an article by Bonnie Hobbs at http://goo.gl/d9tdG.
Closing the Social Security Death Index won't prevent this form of identity theft. No Social Security Numbers are needed. The con artists used online genealogy databases, property tax databases, and paper records at the courthouse. I assume they also can obtain the same information from newspaper obituaries published in the local newspaper as well as from many other sources.