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Lawsuit Debates County's Control of Public Record Access Newsletter Archives  February 22, 2006
February 2006 Lawsuit Debates County's Control of Public Record
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If the people are the county's greatest asset then surely their documented lives are the county's greatest treasure.

Starting with our feature article, Lawsuit Debates County's Control of Public Record Access, this month's newsletter highlights the battle between public officials, citizens and the companies and criminals who intend to plunder the treasury.

Clip-Clip , Paste-Past and Their Home Was His

The Role U.S. Counties May Be Playing in International Deed Fraud

Police in Denton County, Texas reported the theft of the Frisco couple's home as a new twist on identity theft where criminals used a copy of a signature and driver's license number to file a fraudulent deed. The bogus deed can be found on the Denton County web site, along with the victim's legitimate signature and driver's license number.

This isn't new to national and international investigators looking into what the F.B.I. calls the fastest growing white collar crime in the country.They are making a connection to this type of theft and online counties.

Online Records Linked to Identity Theft and Worse

Arizona’s Maricopa County was the first government entity in the nation to post Public Records online. Maricopa now claims the highest rate of identity theft in the country. IT officials say the two statistics are inextricably linked."

The link has been clear to criminals and law enforcement for nearly twenty years. . . . See for yourself

Courts, Law Enforcement and the Public React

From Fort Bend County, Texas to Oneida County, New York, citizens reaction to local government publishing their records online is consistently unfavorable. In letters to local newspapers and letters to legislators, concerned citizens are calling for the removal of their sensitive information or removal of the offending official. In an increasing number of cases, outraged citizens are resorting to lawsuits.. . . . 

County Publishes Sensitive Information Online

 Robert Clifford, speaking on behalf of the county's district attorney's office said " It's not only disheartening, it's crazy."

Clerk/Recorder's Association Faces Claims of Illegal Activity

According to Mason's complaints, there is no state law to support a $1-per-page fee for printouts of digital records, but he was forced to pay this in Clark County. These printouts currently comprise more than $80,000 in annual copying revenue. According to Indiana law, however, the fee can only be applied to documents produced by a "photographic process."

Quick Facts

  • Maricopa County which includes Phoenix Arizona was the first county to publish records over the Internet. Today Phoenix leads the nation for identity theft victims.
  • Tarrant County (Ft. Worth, TX) began publishing online in 2003. Two years later Dallas-Ft Worth ranked fourth in the nation for identity theft
  • Fort Bend County, TX. publishes over 20 million county documents online. Area residents suffer the second highest number of identity theft incidents in the state.

  • Citizens filed multiple class actions in 2005 against government entities publishing "public" records online
  • At least two women have been murdered as a result of the their sensitive information being published electronically by government agencies
  • In 2005 over 100 judges petitioned the county to take their information offline after a Federal Judge's family was murdered in her Chicago home.

  • County clerks in Texas are not required to publish their constituents records to the Internet.

Related Articles

County Clerk Victim Of ID Theft After $25,000 disappears from bank account, Lawmakers call for changes in County's practice of making very personal information available on Website

Taxpayer 'S blast online posting of county records Outraged citizens call for clerk's removal

Suit may have led to ID purge thieves confess they used county site - victim sues county

Rampant Deed Fraud Investigators acknowledge criminals accessed county records online to steal identities and homes. Fraud spreading across America as more counties go online. . . .

Former County Recorder Found Guilty of Extortion
Used his role to obtain a pre-publication list of tax- sale properties, purged property lien . . .

Computer Error Inflates Home Price to $400 Million
created major problems for Indiana's Porter County when the error was unmasked.

Legislator Calls for County Clerks to Remove Records From Internet Sen. Charles J. Fuschillo Jr., who heads the Senate Consumer Protection Committee and has authored legislation to protect consumers from identity theft, called on county clerks to remove the information from the Internet.

FBI Investigates Democrats  Federal prosecutors are investigating whether two Democratic Party researchers used online Public Records to illegally obtain the credit score of Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele

Michigan County Fights Back Against Mortgage Fraud
Although most victims of mortgage fraud never meet the person committing the crime against them, Casha Valentine, who works at the Wayne County Register of Deeds, recently did. She was standing at the counter in her office when an individual approached her and handed her a deed containing her forged signature . . . 

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