News for Public Officials and the People They Serve
County Website Contains Personal Information
6/27/2006 Source of Title Reprinted with permission

Users of Washington's King County Recorder's Office Website can often peruse personal information, such as Social Security numbers, according to a recent discovery by KIRO 7 Eyewitness News. The county officials, including officials from the King County Sheriff Department, were unaware of this security issue.

"I was shocked," said John Urquhart, a sergeant with sheriff's department. "I was shocked. I didn't realize that Social Security numbers were available in such a fairly easy manner to get."

Others in the community are fearful that criminals will uncover this information and will use it to steal individuals' identities from the county's database. Although no one believes this information has compromised anyone's safety yet, it still poses a security threat, according to Reagan Dunn, a councilman for the county.

"Clearly this is an avenue that people have been using to perpetrate the identity theft," Dunn said. "It's not thousands of records; it's actually millions of records, millions of pages of records that we have online here in our index. We don't have a process to go back, and we don't have the ability under the law to go back and alter public documents."

Dunn added that he believes people need to be told that their personal information has been placed online by the county and that it could place them in harm's way.

A call to the county's supervisor of records, Diane Mickunas-Ries, was not returned to Source of Title prior to publication date.

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What you should know to protect your family

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