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"Anyone" will be able to invade your life...WHEN OUR PERSONAL RECORDS GO ONLINE…

When our records/lives are put on the internet - thanks to some Clerks of Circuit Court and Virginia Senators who are apparently hell bent on seeing our lives/records going out on the www, what will "Anyone" - and it will be "Anyone" since they are "public" records - be able to find out? How can "Anyone" invade our lives or steal our identities from the privacy of their home since they won't have to take off from work and drive to the courthouse to look up the info there?

Simple…. Just a midnight/anytime cruise through those records will reveal personal details of people's private lives such as:

- HOME ADDRESS - "Anyone" will be able to find the home address in many types of documents for : doctors, dentists, veterinarians, psychiatrists/psychologists, counselors, nurses, military personnel, F.B.I. agents, CIA/Secret Service agents, magistrates, jailers, bail bondsmen, private investigators, sheriffs/deputies, town/city police, state police, game wardens, judges, lawyers, CEOs, newspaper reporters/Editors, teachers/principals, authors, insurance claims adjusters, single women for various reasons .…These people plus others may choose not to have their home addresses listed in phone books. Find the address in the "public" records and then get on the assessors/GIS page and find out more and even get directions to the residence. Some counties/cities even have pictures of the house on the tax assessment/GIS site…

- MINOR CHILDREN'S NAMES AND DATE OF BIRTH - "Anyone" will be able to sit in their home/private office and have access to the divorce papers of those very same people listed above where the minor children's full names/DOBs will be printed and "Anyone" will be able to read how much child support is and when visitation will be… and where. Plus if those same people above have ever filed a Homestead Deed, the minor children's name will be listed there, too and "Anyone" can now know where they live. In final divorce decrees, it lists the addresses of the parents AND typically where they work….and if a minor child loses a parent (dies), the names and ages will be found in the "list of heirs."

- SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBERS - "Anyone" will be able to get SS#s out of marriage licenses (the SS# shouldn't even be available to the general public on those docs but in some places are thanks to inept Clerks of Ct. (Code of VA 32.1-267), Final Divorce decrees, tax liens, judgments, notary commissions, sometimes financing statements (UCCs), and sometimes in Homestead deeds or Deeds of Trust/Credit Line Deeds of Trust (like our Attorney General Jerry Kilgore and twin brother Del. Terry Kilgore.) Click here to see a portion of their Credit Line Deed of Trust in Scott County records - part of their SS# numbers were obscured by the author)…and, of course, if you have ever had a ticket/summons and appealed it to Circuit Court, your SS# will be on a piece of paper you never even realized existed right next to your name and home address…

- MOTHER'S MAIDEN NAME - "Anyone" will be able to find that "password" to your various accounts in marriage licenses and name change documents.

- LOAN/ACCOUNT NUMBERS - "Anyone" will be able to find these numbers mostly in divorce papers, Deeds of Trust (mortgage papers) and sometimes in list of inventories for estates of a deceased person…

- SIGNATURES - "Anyone" can steal your signature with a couple of clicks of a mouse and then send an email, fax, or print out a letter with the signature on it….

Del. Sam Nixon's (R-Chesterfield) HB 2426 in its original version would have stopped all the above info from being put on the internet (click here)

Here's the vote on Feb 1, 2003 when the House of Delegates vote was taken on the ungutted version of HB 2426. (Click here)

Hanover's own Del. Hargrove voted against the bill because his son is our Clerk of Circuit Court. He voted AGAINST protecting the people along with the other 28 Delegates who voted "nay." Hargrove's "nay" was a vote, though, FOR his son who wants to throw our lives out to the world --- and almost did last September until public outcry stopped him from turning on the switch!

And here's the version that was passed in the Senate after they "gutted" HB 2426 in sub-committee and committee. It basically became worthless with paragraph D(1) and some other changes. Plus "state agency" was also removed from Paragraph A. The State Corporation Commission on its "open" website also gives out people's information on various records…

And then, of course, we know people can buy the DMV records. When they sign up, they have to state their purpose for wanting them. So what's so strange about making people state a "purpose" for wanting to get into our lives online? Sen. Bill Bolling got that "purpose" amendment added on the floor of the Senate and now the same people who want these records on the web want that clause taken out: the Virginia Press Association, the Virginia Coalition for Open Gov't (membership includes almost every university/college and newspaper and TV station in this state), the ACLU (who did support the original bill), AND Virginia Governor Mark Warner.

But the bill is worthless now anyway because it will only drive the Clerks to "pay per view" sites and then they won't have to redact anything! Signing up and paying won't stop "Anyone" from being able to get to your life. He could just drive to the courthouse and look at the paper records, but, like everyone else, "Anyone" is lazy.

CONCLUSION: "Anyone" is happy that these records will be online…..BUT ARE YOU? The public has got to take a stand. Make it a campaign issue this year! Talk about it and email this article to your family/friends/co-workers/legislators. Sometimes they just don't "get it". So educate them. I have been into enough websites on line already in VA with these "public" records to know it's a dangerous thing to have on the world wide web.

(c) 2003 Ostergren, P.C. (Page Format Only)