THE VIRGINIA WATCHDOG
10/26/05- Last updated at on 10/28/05 1000 hrs
Now Fredericksburg and Poquoson in addition to Culpeper County, Giles County, Orange County, AND Shenandoah County TREASURERS PUT WORTHLESS "DISCLAIMER" ON WEBSITES WHERE THEY ARE VIOLATING THE LAW BY PUBLISHING PERSONAL PROPERTY TAX INFO...
These Virginia Treasurers put confidential Personal Property Tax information on their website and all "ANYONE" has to do to access it is have someone else's SSN and then they can see what tangible Personal Property (like cars, motorcylces, boats, etc.) citizens in those counties own and pay taxes on.
It is a Class 2 misdemeanor for ANYONE to publish this information per Code of Virginia 58.1-3 F including the Treasurers. And to make matters worse, now these Treasurers have put a "Disclaimer" on their website absolving themselves of any liability if someone uses another's SSN to access the site and changes information or misuses the information. What are they thinking? Apparently they're not.
Here is the "Disclaimer."
But are these Treasurers joking? Or just being stupid and careless/reckless with these CONFIDENTIAL Personal Property Tax records? In their Disclaimers, they "relinquish any responsibility for the use of another person's Social Security Number, without their consent, in order to view or alter their tax records." So they put this info on the internet and then don't want to take responsibility for them and their security??? And they make every effort to "produce and publish the most current and accurate" tax information. Say what!!!
According to the VA Code, they should not be publishing the Personal Property Tax information anyway, but they are and they think that by requesting a SSN that the information is safe/secure. Nothing could be further from the truth.
And then they do not "assume any liability associated with use or misuse of this data." Say what??? They have taken an OATH to protect that Personal Property Tax information.
Apparently, they also do not realize that SSNs are available by the tens of thousands over in their Circuit Court Clerk's offices on lots of different types of documents like Final Divorce decrees, UCCs, mortgage papers, judgments, tax liens, etc. And they apparently don't realize that someone's "EX" could - and probably does - have their SSN and they could get into the PP Tax records. The "ex" just has to look on a copy of their Final Divorce Decree to get the SSNs especially if they've divorced since 1992 when SSNs started being put on those papers.
And then since every Circuit Court Clerk in VA has to have remote access to those records by July 1, 2006, then ANYONE can sit in their homes and access those records, find the SSNs, and then have a field day with this PP Tax info. Here's how the Circuit Court Clerk's online records mess came about. There are 14 currently online with those records which contain many thousands of SSNs!
But it's not just ex-spouses or ex-partners who can now get to the PP Tax info. No, it's "ANYONE" like a debt collector, a car dealer, a phone company, a credit card company employee, a crooked cop with no search warrant, a credit reporting company, a bank employee, a cell phone vendor, etc.
The Commonwealth's Attorneys in these counties and in Fairfax, Prince William, Louisa, and Frederick Counties should be prosecuting these Treasurers for "publishing and disseminating" Personal Property Tax information which is secret under VA law.
The Culpeper County Commonwealth's Attorney, Gary L. Close, has been contacted (phone) by BJ Ostergren, Founder of The Virginia Watchdog and asked to look into prosecuting the Acting Culpeper Treasurer, David Dejarnette, who happens to be up for election on November 8th, 2005 to fill the unexpired term for the retiring Treasurer.
Here is the link to the Shenandoah County Treasurer's website where you can find the "Disclaimer" by clicking on either of the Personal Property inquiries ... or you can also get to it by clicking on Inquiry Help and then proceeding from there...
Here is the Orange County Treasurer's site. You can click on "Inquiry Options" and then get to the Personal Property Tax information or click on "Inquiry Help" and then proceed from there.
Here's the link to the Giles County Treasurer's site (same as above)
Here is the link to get into the Louisa County, VA Personal Property Tax records. Use "Inquiry options" and "Inquiry Help" options to get to the PP info.
Here's the link to Culpeper Treasurer's site. (same as above)
Here's the link to the Frederick County site (same as above)
Here's the link to the City of Fredericksburg, VA site (search same way as the others)
Here's a link to the City of Poquoson's site. (search the same way)
Here's the link to the Prince William County site (a little different)
And here's Fairfax County's site (you have to have someone's SSN and the last four digits of a VIN which you can find by looking thru a windshield.
Ninety percent of VA's Treasurers or Directors of Taxation do not have - or allow access - to the PP Tax records. You can pay a bill online but you cannot get to the Personal Property you own. You just pay a bill online without having access to the confidential information and that's it...
(Note to Virginia Watchdog readers: The Westmoreland County, VA Treasurer has removed all Personal Property Tax information off her site as of this past Monday but still has this Disclaimer on her site for no apparent reason...)
(c) 2003 Ostergren, P.C. (Page Format Only)