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The Cost of Redaction

Robert A. Franco- SOURCE OF TITLE

Reprinted with permission

I just read an article on SOURCE OF TITLE, Arizona County Begins Redacting Public Record Information. The county that started the online records frenzy is finally going to address the problem that has been linked to causing the highest incidents of identity theft among all the counties in the United States.

Following a decision county officials made several years to ago to place its county records online, the recorder for Maricopa County, Arizona is now spending nearly $5.4 million to redact sensitive information, such as Social Security numbers, from the very documents the county placed online.

I mentioned this cost in an earlier post, 'Virginia Watchdog Takes A Bite Out Of Ohio.' Despite claims that the online records save consumers money by making access to the information easier, I think it actually costs taxpayer more money. The Franklin County, Ohio recorder claimed that residents have saved $1.6 million in copying fees since 2000. Now we have an idea of how much redaction costs; $5.4 million in Maricopa County.

If we look at who is saving money from online access, it is not the consumers. Its the big title companies that can reduce costs by getting free copies online or outsourcing their title searches to India. The costs are not passed along to the consumers. General taxpaying citizens don't make the majority of the copies in the recorders office, its title people. The taxpayers are subsidizing the title industry by paying for the technology to place the Public Records online and the additional costs of redaction.

Furthermore, this is only the first phase. Legislation in some areas may also require the redaction of signatures. How much will it cost the taxpayers when the counties have to go back through and redact all the signatures from the documents as well? Soon, the deeds and mortgages you get with your title searches will look like a top secret report released by the CIA.

Consumers routinely pay hundreds of dollars for title searches that cost around $50. Even if copy costs were being trimmed from consumer's costs, it would only be a small drop in a very large bucket.


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About the author:

Robert A. Franco has been in the title industry for nearly 15 years in the state of Ohio. The owner of VersaTitle, a full service abstracting and title company, and the founder and president of Source of Title, a Web site devoted to providing media and marketing services to the title industry, Franco has dedicated much of his professional career to furthering the role and significance of title examiners in the title insurance industry... More About Robert Franco

Robert can be reached at




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