THE VIRGINIA WATCHDOG
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12/02/05 North Carolina legislators apparently forgot (or didn't know) about a great source for SSNs on state websites...and pass law to allow citizens to "FREEZE" credit reports which is something VA citizens should be able to do but can't because we have no law allowing it.
Here in VA we can put a "fraud alert" on our credit reports but we can't "freeze" them. The Virginia General Assembly should pass a bill allowing that since identity theft is the number one growing crime... Freezing a credit report is a much better way to protect ourselves from unlawful uses of our identities/credit information.
But when North Carolina legislators passed a bill in Sept of this year which would allow people to "freeze" their credit reports AND also have their SSNs removed off documents put on the internet by Register of Deeds and Court Clerks, they did not include letting people remove SSNs off UCCs - commonly called "financing statements" - which are held by the N.C. Secretary of State, Elaine Marshall.
Marshall's office has been notified by The Virginia Watchdog that SSNs are all over her site on those older UCCs. That office has known about this though since last spring when BJ Ostergren was on local television down in NC and it was discovered then that the Commissioner of Agriculture, Stephen Troxler, had his SSN on a document that was available on the internet for the whole world to see. He then had someone in her office black out his SSN on his financing statement. But he never apparently shared this piece of information with others on his Agriculture Commission since others still have their SSNs on documents.
But under what legal authority did the SOS's office black out his SSN? And where is the "originally" recorded document now held in her office that shows his SSN. The "integrity" of the original documents filed in her office has to be maintained. So where is she keeping that record and any other record she alters?
Her website linked here shows SSNs are still in abundance (one just has to keep opening docs to find them) and since she has no statutory authority to remove those SSNs, then she should shut her site down until she can protect the people of her state and their SSNs.
Yesterday while hunting in her website, a document was found which was obviously recorded by the filer (secured party) in the wrong state. The person/debtor the UCC was filed against lives in Keystone Heights, Florida and the filer is Kubota Credit of Suwanee, GA. The debtor's SSN is right there for the world to see... But yet it's on the NC SOS's site and not Florida's SOS! (Florida's SOS also has a site with SSNs all over it, too!)
Here's how that site and many more like it across this country work...Pick to search by "individual". Then put in any name in the last name space and pick any initial to put in the blank for the first name. When the next screen comes up with results then keep opening (clicking on) the little yellow file folder next to the "file number." The file will come up in PDF format. Look for older docs filed over two years ago since newer ones generally don't have them on there.
Here is the document for Troxler I got off her website last spring showing his SSN and now go into her site and look up this guy. Just put in Troxler, then use initial S. You will see his SSN blacked out on her site. Apparently because of who this man is and the fact that he had some "pull" is how he got his SSN protected on that site. BUT other NC citizens' SSNs are still all over that site and the new law doesn't protect them by allowing them to remove the SSN off the UCC.
And to print the UCCs out... well, if you have a problem not getting the whole document, then just "email" them to yourself and they'll print out fine unless they stop that after reading this article.
Here's the NC law that went into effect yesterday (12/01/05) and it deals with freezing credit accounts in the first section and then later down the page, it comes to Section 4 132 -1.8 which gives someone the right to have a SSN removed off a PUBLIC RECORD on Register of Deeds/Clerks internet sites. So where will the "originally filed document be maintained to protect the record's "integrity" in the Register of Deeds/Clerk's office?
Why should these records be online anyway when they are at the courthouse? Why is the NC legislature - and other states' legislatures - allowing these state agencies to spoon feed criminals?
Nowhere in this law, though, does it mention that the Secretary of State has the authority to black out a SSN on her internet records...but she has done it and Stephen Troxler's record is evidence. Now who will do something about it? The NC Attorney General's office?
And 75-62 B about the protection of SSNs does not apply to those UCCs ....
Lastly, 1) if a SSN is on a PUBLIC RECORD like the ones the Clerks/Register of Deeds hold or the ones the Secretary of State has, then anyone can get the number off the records but they shouldn't be getting them off the internet...They should have to drive to the courthouse or to the SOS's office! And 2) the citizens don't know the records are even online to ask to have their SSN removed.
Here's a link to a newspaper's column about this. Read Highlights of Identity Theft law in the box...
(c) 2003 Ostergren, P.C. (Page Format Only)