TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: State's Online Records Pose Risk / ID Data Accessible on Deeds

State's Online Records Pose Risk / ID Data Accessible on Deeds

Monty Solomon (
Sun, 10 Jul 2005 03:26:37 -0400

State's online records pose risk
ID data accessible on deeds documents

By Joe Light, Globe Correspondent

Hackers uploaded a virus to siphon off credit card information from
CardSystems Solutions Inc. Thieves posed as legitimate businesses to
purchase personal information from ChoicePoint Inc. But a search of
state records posted online and easily accessible by the public
reveals that thieves would not have to go through nearly that much
trouble to steal the identities of many Massachusetts residents.

Tax liens, mortgage papers, deeds, and other real estate-related
documents are publicly available in online databases run by registries
of deeds across the state. The Globe found documents in free databases
of all but three Massachusetts counties containing the names and
Social Security numbers of Massachusetts residents.

Public documents that sometimes contain names and Social Security
numbers include state and federal tax liens, Massachusetts Health
liens, child support liens, and, less frequently, mortgages, said
registers of deeds.

Although registers of deeds said that they are unaware of cases in
which criminals used information from their databases maliciously, the
information contained in the documents would be more than enough to
steal an identity and open new lines of credit, said Eric Bourassa, a
consumer advocate with the Massachusetts Public Interest Research
Group who deals with identity theft issues.

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