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Like most states, Texas officials are in the process of exposing their citizens to identity theft, burglary, pedophiles, stalkers, etc. by way of putting personal (albeit public) records held in the courthouses across the Lone Star state on the internet including "land records."
That term "land records" includes deeds, mortgage documents (usually called Deeds of Trust), wills, marriage licenses, military discharge papers, final divorce decrees, judgments, tax liens, name change documents, financing statements called UCCs, child support enforcement liens, mechanics liens, powers of attorney, foreign birth certificates, etc.
Some counties in Texas have already gone online with these records. They view it as a service to the public.
The records are already online in Travis County and Ft. Bend County where ANYONE can find Congressman Thomas Delay's SSN on a Federal Tax lien.
The Virginia Watchdog's founder, BJ Ostergren, was interviewed on KLBJ the day after the Washington Post story "A Matter of Public Record" came out. A few mintutes before she went on the air she went into the Travis County Clerk's site and found thousands of Social Security numbers on Federal Tax liens and then told the hosts of the show on air that these records are on the internet. They had no idea these records were online. The SSNs were all over the place on that site as they are on every Clerk's site who has put up what is commonly referred to as "land records."
The documents being put online across the U.S.A. contain signatures (which are easily captured off the screen), mother's maiden names, minor children's names, financial account numbers, date of birth, AND Social Security numbers - all you need to steal someone's identity.
Some other counties online in Texas are (but not limited to) Angelina, Aransas, Bexar, Cameron, Collin, Denton, Ector, El Paso, Gregg, Harris, Hidalgo, Kaufman, Nueces, Rockwall, Starr, Tarrant, Tom Green, Travis, Washington, Webb, Williamson, and Zapata. The records are in the process of being scanned and made ready for the internet.
Most of those sites are wide open to the world. And there is no security in a subscription site either. Why? Because a ring of identity thieves could have "one front" person sign up and pay the fee and then a hundred of their friends could use their computer. By law ANYONE can have access to these records.
Here is the link to the Travis County, TX search page: http://deed.co.travis.tx.us/search.aspx?cabinet=opr
On the next page, pick a time period between 04/08/1999 thru present. (HINT: use a six month time period because there are literally hundreds of thousands of documents online and each will contain a SS#.) Use that date since you will see that before April 8, 1998 the "images" are not available.
After you pick a time period then use the pull down menu for document type and pick FEDERAL TAX LIEN.
The list will come up and then click on the IMAGE icon and keep going until it comes up in either PDF format OR you can get it in TIFF format. You will be able to see the EIN or the SSN. Either way these should NOT BE ON THE INTERNET!
Or you can search for Deeds of Trust (mortgage papers), etc. using the same time period and you don't have to know anyone...just pick a name. In lots of instances they contain SS#s also.
Now what to do about these records online? Get in touch with your state legislative officials and make them aware of this and tell them to help shut down these sites. Tell your friends, relatives, and co-workers and make them aware of this. Only the public's involvement will get these records off line and keep them off line.
And then call your Clerk and tell her to shut that site down and get the records off line. Tell her that if people want to see these records, make them go to the courthouse.
Her name is Dana DeBeauvoir, County Clerk. phone 512-854-9188 fax: 512-854-4526
And you might want to think about voting her out of office and also the rest of the clerks in Texas who are endangering your records and YOU and your personal information.
(c) 2003 Ostergren, P.C. (Page Format Only)