THE VIRGINIA WATCHDOG
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05/20/07 Many Counties have put public records on the internet in Ohio that have SSNs on them - including ATHENS COUNTY...
This past Thursday and Friday, The Virginia Watchdog's BJ Ostergren called many residents in Athens County, Ohio telling them their Recorder, Julia Michael Scott, put their records - and the images of them - on the internet complete with Social Security Numbers. The SSNs were exposed to ANYONE who went into the site... as they have been for several years and other personal info was also shown on various types of records, too.
A call was made by Ostergren around 1500 hrs Friday to the Recorder's office, but Mrs. Scott was not there even though this crisis was taking place since people were upset to find out their SSNs are on a public web site. Ostergren spoke to Jessica Brandt Markins, Chief Deputy Clerk, and requested that they break the links to the images of the records to protect ALL citizens and not just the ones who had gotten a phone call from Ostergren who discovered that only those citizens who were called by her were able to get their SSNs half way protected. Many citizens still had no clue they were at risk thanks to Mrs. Scott publishing the records which are open for viewing at her office but should never have been posted online with literally thousands of SSNs exposed. The Recorder's office blacked out the first five numbers of those folks' SSNs but left the last four. The last four should have been blacked out also since they are a key to one's life as well.
They refused to shut the site down. Ostergren said she would start publishing records Friday evening that she had downloaded if they insisted on leaving the records online. But later on Friday, someone in that office had the good sense to break all links finally to the images of the records on the internet. The icons to open the records' "images" were removed.
The site has been online for several years. At one point, Mrs. Scott even had DD-214s (military discharge papers) online complete with all veterans' info including Social Security Numbers. The DD-214s were removed off the internet a good while ago, but still on that site are mortgage records and leases (many of which contain SSNs)... and Federal Tax liens.
All Federal Tax liens (both Notices and Releases) have SSNs in column "C."
Why she and other Recorders and Clerks in Ohio (and all over this country) have put these records online is beyond comprehension. Plus Scott's own "Disclaimer" says she doesn't "guarantee the accuracy or reliability of them" so what's the purpose of doing it?
When election time rolls around, Julia Michael Scott should be voted out of office for having been so reckless with her constituents' records/information and their SSNs.
A few other Recorders who have put records online with SSNs are Hamilton, Cuyahoga, Trumball, Portage, Stark, Summit, Union, Muskingum and the ones on this list Some of those recorders have already blacked out some of the SSNs but if you know where to look in other sites, they are online by the tens of thousands!
Ostergren is the same person who caused the outcry when former Secretary of State, Ken Blackwell, had UCCs on his website complete with SSNs. A class action suit was filed in Federal Court in March 2006 as a result of Ostergren alerting citizens and that suit resulted in the SSNs being removed...well, most of them. There were still SSNs on that site as recent as two months ago and Ostergren was working with now Sec. Brunner's office to finally get the last few thousand removed. She told them how to find the remaining ones. Most states and counties have made records available on the internet, but some are worse than others - like Virginia which also makes available more records than most Clerks do online. Read this for info on the situation in VA.
All counties' Circuit Court Clerks are up for re-election in Virginia this year and they should be voted out of office since they and their "Clerks Association" pushed for this online records mess.
If people want to see the records, they should have to DRIVE TO THE COURTHOUSE!
(c) 2003 Ostergren, P.C. (Page Format Only)