This WEB site provided for public information.
When sent to citizens of Loudoun on July 22nd, this letter was accompanied by a document which was obtained off of the Internet. The Virginia Watchdog had "internet access" to the Loudoun Circuit Court Clerk's "online" records.
THE VIRGINIA WATCHDOG
Your Clerk of Circuit Court, Gary Clemens, is planning to go "live" on the INTERNET with all the records in the Clerk's office. The paper included with this letter is an example of your records that will be available to "ANYONE" who signs up and pays to have access - like I did. I got your personal info off the internet while sitting in my home in Hanover Co.
I am sending various documents with this mailing to several hundred citizens in Loudoun which may include a page out of a Deed of trust, a tax lien, a page or two out of divorce papers, a page out of name change documents, or a marriage license depending on what I found with your SS# on it. Most people are getting the signature page of a deed of trust.
Yes, these records are "public" records and "anyone" can see them in the Clerk's office between 8:30 AM and 4:30 PM but to have them available over the internet is dangerous - not to mention reckless! A Clerk takes an oath to protect these records and, in my opinion, the Clerks of Circuit courts who have gone online with these records are being careless - especially in this time of IDENTITY THEFT which is THE fastest growing crime today.
Clemens is quoted in the Leesburg Today (which by the way broke this story) saying , "Some people may have the impression that clerks, not only in Loudoun but across the commonwealth, are putting Social Security numbers on the Internet. That simply is not the case and I appreciate the opportunity to clarify the issue,” Clemens said.
WRONG!!!! If your records have your personal identifying information in them like your SS#, your mother's maiden name (used as passwords for various accounts), your date of birth, or your minor children's names in them, then that information WILL most definitely be on the internet AND available to "anyone" who signs up - like I did. I signed up for access in his "test" period and in a matter of 3 1/2 days I was able to find the document you are holding in your hand right now (actually I found over a 1000 SS#s in that time and IF I could find them, so can "anyone." And "anyone" could then steal your life…. or, at the very least, wreak havoc on it by having your Social Security Number.
Once a document is filed with the Clerk's office, he doesn't have the legal authority to remove your SS# or your kids' names, or your signature, or your mother's maiden name, etc…. It is a Class 6 Felony to alter a document. The law only allows the SS#s to be taken off marriage licenses filed since 7/1/97 - nothing else!!!!! (COV Section 32.1-267).
Del. Sam Nixon of Chesterfield County introduced House Bill 2426 in this last session of the General Assembly which passed overwhelmingly in the House in its "original" version on 2/1/03 and that bill would have stopped all this internet stuff dead in its tracks, but our VA Senate totally GUTTED the bill making it worthless by the adding Paragraph D1 which allows all the information like the SS#s to be put on the internet if the clerks have a "pay per view" site. (NOTE: your Delegates Reese and Rust voted against the original bill. What WERE they thinking?) It also allows signatures, mother's maiden names, DOBs, minor children's names, and financial account numbers to be put on the world wide web, too. BUT "anyone" can sign up to have access…Just pay the money! A "pay per view" site is no protection whatsoever for your records/life! THE LAW ALLOWS "ANYBODY" ACCESS TO THESE RECORDS!!!
Your Board of Supervisors kicked in $410,000 of taxpayer dollars for this reckless venture. Why? You are also paying for his online venture in another way - because every time a document is recorded for you like a Deed or Deed of Trust, you are paying another $3 for each of those items in addition to the regular fees. So you're paying twice to have your life spread all over the internet by your Clerk Gary Clemens. Remember this at election time….
I have no records in your county but I took on this issue statewide to stop this and you can go to my website and read all about it. Plus you can read about how the Division of Game and Inland Fisheries is allowing your boat registration information to be sold and they soon will start selling the hunting and fishing "licensee" database. When you bought that boat registration or your hunting and/or fishing license, did anyone tell you they were going to SELL IT? NO! They did not! But they are selling it to make MONEY!
You need to share this letter with all your relatives, friends, co-workers, etc. and then write letters to the newspapers in protest, call your Delegate, Senator, Board members, and the Clerk. Get all your friends to call too. They have records also but I am not made of money and cannot send everyone in Loudoun a letter. It is up to every Loudoun citizen to stop this! I cannot fight your battle for you from Hanover County. Go to my website and start reading from the bottom upwards.
Thanks… and remember… they are YOUR records, not mine!!! Do something to help spread the word about this!!!
Betty "BJ" Ostergren
(c) 2003 Ostergren, P.C. (Page Format Only)