News for Public Officials and the People They Serve


Think Your ID Is Secure? We Found It Online.

You'll never guess who put it there.


By Janice Forster,

Reprinted with permission


All across America, county offices are succumbing to the demands of title companies, major financial institutions and data brokers to sell their stash of community identities at wholesale prices. Using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), they take county registries of deeds and recorder offices to court - and often win. Or, they simply hand over enough cash to satiate your local registrar and walk away with your life history.

Many states have passed laws recently to redact this information but the public is generally unaware of it. Probably because the public is also blissfully unaware that their own county offices have sold them to the highest bidder.

The redaction forms are a joke, anyway. They direct the public to find their documents, then list within the body of the document where the sensitive information is located - and then ask you to list that information. Problem is, the list of approved information for redaction is so limited that the law is essentially useless.

Think this doesn't affect you? Send me a note with your name and county --  no more. I'll reply with everything your county land records has posted for the entire world to see. That's right - the entire world - meaning anyone, anywhere, with computer access. Your name, address, photos of your home, spouse's name, social security numbers, bank numbers, judgments and liens, separation agreements which list complete inventories of your home, who got what in the divorce and where the kids are going this weekend - all courtesy of your local land registry.

Editors Note: Janice Forster is a senior analyst with . She has helped hundreds of identity theft victims and potential victims discover and remove their sensitive information from government websites. Her work was recently featured in U.S.A Today's Good cybercitizens keep watch over ID-theft victims


 You can write Jan at


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