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Reader's Letter - Lisa Ramsey
To all the county clerks of Texas –
It is unfortunate that county clerks remain clueless to the harm they have caused the very citizens who have voted them into office to “protect and preserve” their records. A comment that, “it was a good business decision” is not the reason the citizens put the county clerks in office. The first and foremost criteria in any government office that is the keeper of records is to protect those records and the sensitive information therein.
Rendering the documents the citizens in the county entrusted to the county clerk assessable to anyone in the world isn’t what the citizens asked for. Ask the couple who owned property in Denton County. After they moved out for a work-related transfer and left the house vacant, the house was stolen. Click, click – in a matter of seconds their signature and driver’s license number were stolen. A warranty deed forged. The Denton County investigator attributed the entire theft transaction on access to online Public Records.
You cannot ask Amy Boyer, the women who was stalked by Liam Youens – she is dead – how did he find her? He found her in the records the counties published online. You can find these statements in the police reports covering the crime. A judge has allowed the data information company providing this sensitive information to be sued for negligence. Helen Remsburg, Administratrix of the Estate of Amy Lynn Boyer v. Docusearch Inc., No. 2002-255 (D.N.H.). The information provided by this data information company was no more than what county clerks are posting on the internet - name, address and social security number.
Why would Judges be ordering their names removed and all documentation if it posed no threat to the security of the American people? The families of federal judges have been murdered in their homes.
You can also ask the victims to mortgage fraud – a scheme performed across the country by two individuals. Abstractors nationwide compiled evidence of records and forwarded them to the FBI resulting in indictments and convictions. I am one of those abstracting companies. In every one of my online counties, I found these victims. In every one of my off-line counties, I found no victims. Do you see a correlation?
How can you say birth records are sealed for 75 years in Texas, when you choose to display the divorce papers filed in the real property records online? Grayson county lists current births, their name, parents name and date of birth. How is that so? Identity thieves don’t need copies of the actual documents to utilize this information in forming an identity.
Records have very sensitive information – driver’s licenses, social security numbers, children’s names and dates of birth. No one wants the entire world to see their sensitive information. Numbers all housed in the real property records in filed divorce decrees, powers of attorney, liens, mortgages, leases and probates. Virtually every document filed contains some type of sensitive information.
My plans were not for terrorists to locate my local water easements, utility easements and towers, etc. so my city becomes their next target. Recovered notes of Al Quaeda revealed targeted sites through online records. Work is being farmed overseas to India and viewed by terrorists – our records, bought, sold and packaged to foreign countries. Red stamped, “Here we Are, Please Harm Us!” This is all the information you need to strike again!
One Indian firm boasts searching the “public” records of 400 American counties to produce 30,000 reports a month. Do you like knowing they are doing your title searches without the knowledge of any of your individual state laws and regulations that govern these searches?
The psychiatric nurse in Alaska who is suing to remove her sensitive information doesn’t want her records online. Online records pose a very high security risk to her safety. Would you want to be a psychiatric nurse with today’s ability to access personal information?
If you want a really strong opinion, from a really strong citizen of the United States, let me quote Judge Robert H. Alsdorf, King County Superior Court of Washington. I could not extend you the same message with such form and grace as he does:
“It is hard to conceive a broader invasion of privacy than freely disseminating the information to the entire world and rendering it instantaneously accessible to all”
Judge Robert H. Alsdorf, KING COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT, Washington. MEMORANDUM RULING
All kinds of issues revolve around online records – not just the fraud, the identity theft, and the security of one’s identity. County clerks promoting to companies and the general public a purported ease in performing a title search has resulted in research by unqualified and untrained personnel. Experienced and trained abstractors have actually somewhat protected the county from suits by knowing different abbreviations, often not legal abbreviations used in indexing, the art of cross-referencing different ways in almost every county. Untrained personnel are missing judgments, tax liens and mortgages. Two local attorneys hired me to find out if there was a property sale after their abstracts of judgments were placed on file, one out of Dallas County and one out of Collin County, Texas. Both resulted in the missed Abstracts of Judgment – local attorneys were harmed.
One of the hardest comments for me to digest was made by a county clerk that provided the “rationale” of the sale of records cheaply to a title company. Stated was the substantial amount of business received. Title companies don’t provide business to the counties. The citizens provide business and revenue to the county by carrying out their daily lives and businesses. The citizens are the ones paying for the documents to be recorded and the records to be maintained.
To add insult to injury, these companies who have imaged our documents have decided they own them and are selling them for profit. The counties are losing major revenue. I want the revenue for these images to remain in my county, to keep my county running, and to keep my county taxes down. I am one abstractor, out of hundreds of abstractors, that used to write checks for large sums of money every day. The money went to my county for the preservation of my county’s records. There is no comparison to the lost revenue vs. any savings any county is reaping today.
Going online was just an easy way out. We won’t use our intelligence to make our county office run smoother and more efficient – we will just violate our citizen’s privacy and put it online? The protection of our lives and property should never be thought of as a business decision. Perhaps a good business decision would be to keep local research businesses, local attorneys, and local title companies in business instead of putting them out of business – hurting the local economy. Perhaps a good business decision would have been to keep records off-line so that properly trained personnel would be doing your real estate transactions instead of make-shift thin title plants using low wage employees resulting in multiple claims of missed liens, judgments and mortgages, all hurting the citizens you swore to protect. Perhaps a good business decision would be to retain rights of ownership of the documents to the county preserved for the citizens thereby making any kind of resale for profit by companies purchasing bulk documentation forbidden thereby protecting their sensitive information by internet stalkers.
There is security in records being maintained just in the county clerk’s office and not online. All of us who frequent the county clerk’s office are private investigators, abstractors, and title company employees. The county clerks know who we are and why we are there. They would have watched and questioned the men who sought to commit mortgage fraud – they would have noticed the red in all the black dots. The stalker who killed the woman who he was obsessed with wouldn’t have had time to drive across the state to track her down. She would have had a much better chance of being alive today. Perhaps the county clerks are unaware of the citizen upheaval that is currently forming.
Lawsuits have happened and will continue. People will win and the taxpayers will be the losers. Losers in revenues lost to court battles. Revenues that could have been used to enhance our community, not tear it down. Instead of asking the title companies who are farming out our documents to foreign countries, and making claims to our images for their own profit at the cost of county revenues, maybe you should have asked your local citizens first.
While I cannot be the conscience of another person, or another “business” entity, I do know that if I was a county clerk that put records online, I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night. So much harm has been caused by so called “business decisions.” I am not a business decision. The other citizens of my county are not business decisions. We are real people, with real assets and real identities who deserve to be protected by the people who took the oath of office and swore to protect our sensitive information.
I guess the real question is, how many more deaths have to occur, how many more identities have to be stolen, and how many more 9-11s do we have to have? Someone please tell me how much harm do we have to suffer before our government officials use their intelligence?
Lisa Ramsey See Lisa's Profile
Collin County, Texas
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