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Below is THE letter sent this week to current/former Arlington residents telling them their records/lives are on the internet available to ANYONE who pays $50/month and signs up for access to the records like the Virginia Watchdog did.

Part of the SSN on the accompanying document sent with the letter was blacked out before mailing out just in case the letter was lost in the mail and then, as an extra precaution,  copied so the whole number could never be read by anyone... Clerks have no power to black out/remove any information on the records and it is a class 6 felony to do so.  These records should never be available via the internet and to read how all this got started read the article entitled "the Truth about the online records mess and the links to prove it" EVERY SENATOR AND DELEGATE voted in 1997 to allow these records online.  What were they thinking (or maybe they weren't)?  Please spread the word in Fairfax and Prince William since the records are available online there by signing up. And if you know anyone in Loudoun County, tell them about this because their clerk is bound and determined to put their records back up there.

There are about 20 counties online with these records. To read a great article that was in the VA Lawyers Weekly published August 25th, 2003 click here.   The Virginia Watchdog is in the article in several places.   There are arrogant comments made by several clerks towards the end... 

Do they want your life/records online so your identity can be stolen?  .

Now here's the letter:


 Recognize your Social Security Number???  

The paper included with this letter is an example of your records I got off the internet while sitting in my home in Hanover Co. The Arlington Circuit Court Clerk's website is open to "ANYONE" who signs up and pays $50 to have access to the "images" of millions of documents.  "ANYONE! "  Even though his site says it's open only to "title searchers", that is wrong.  I am no title searcher  - I am just a middle aged woman in Hanover County trying to stop this "online records" mess in Virginia where about 20 Clerks have put our personal records/information recorded in their offices on a website available to "anyone" who signs up to BUY it - like I did!  Fairfax and Prince William in your area are online with these records also.

I am sending various documents with this mailing to almost 1800 current/former Arlington citizens.  This letter may include a page out of a Deed of trust, a tax lien, a page or two out of divorce papers, OR a page out of name change documents.  It all depends on what I found with your Social Security Number on it in the Arlington records "online."  Most people are getting the signature page of a Deed of Trust since the SSN is beside a signature which can also be captured right off a computer screen and used in a fax, email, or printed out in a letter by someone pretending to be YOU!   

It is dangerous and reckless to have this information available over the INTERNET but by paying $50 and giving my name and address, I got a password to get into your personal records.  This online records access needs to be stopped!!

Yes, these records are "public" records and "anyone" can see them in the Clerk's office between 8 AM and 4 PM, but to have them available over the internet is pure idiocy!  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.  If "your" records have any of your personal identifying information in them like your SSN, your mother's maiden name (used as passwords for various accounts), your date of birth, or your minor children's names, then that information IS available to "anyone" who signs up for access - like I did.   And "anyone" could then steal your life/credit since they have the key to your life - your SSN!

Once a document is filed with the Clerk's office, he does not have the legal authority to remove your SSN 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 SSNs to be removed off the marriage licenses filed since 7/1/97 - nothing else!!!!!  (COV Section 32.1-267).

Del. Sam Nixon of Chesterfield County introduced HB 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 in subcommittee making it worthless by the adding Paragraph D1 which allows all the information like the SSNs to be put on the internet if the clerks have what amounts to a "pay per view" site!  (NOTE: your Delegates Almand, Brink, Darner, Petersen, and Van Landingham voted against the original worthwhile bill. What WERE they thinking?).  But "subscribing" protects nothing because "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 -  "online" or in the Clerk's office but people are lazy and don't go to the clerk's office!!!

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 also 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/Council members, and the Clerk. Get all your friends to call too. They also have records but I am not made of money and cannot afford to send everyone in Arlington Co/Falls Church a letter.  It is up to every citizen to stop this! I cannot fight your battle for you from Hanover County.  Go to my website and start reading.   I have links to the Leesburg Today articles about the letters I sent into Loudoun plus I have an article up that tells the whole truth about the online records mess.  Just read and learn the truth about this issue since it's apparent your legislators won't protect you!  Remember this at election time…. Oh, and I cross referenced the records with the online "assessment" site which has your NAME on it

Thanks… and remember…they are YOUR records, not mine!!!  Do something to help STOP this ONLINE records scheme!

Betty "BJ" Ostergren  email:

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