Thursday, October 28, 2010

Is your confidential information exposed for all to see in the Public Records?


Did you know that there is an awful lot of private information that has been recorded in the county public records that might include your credit card numbers, social security numbers, drivers license numbers etc.

A friend recently asked me to review her mortgage and I was shocked to find out that the No Lien Affidavit, Continuous Marriage Affidavit and other mortgage documents that she and her husband signed included their Drivers License numbers in the Notary certification. Some notaries simply check off that such identification was produced and others actually take down the license numbers which are then recorded in the Public Records and available for anyone to see! This got me curious and I went back to check personal real estate transactions for my family. My brother and his wife sold a townhouse years ago and the deed actually contains the purchaser’s social security number!

The rules pertaining to state and federal court filings have been tightened up over the years to protect sensitive information like this but many documents involved in real estate transactions (sales, mortgages, lines of credit, etc.) still contain sensitive information which is subsequently recorded in the Public Records for all to see. Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties have online mechanisms to have such information blocked. I’m sure other counties have similar mechanisms.

See http://www.broward.org/RecordsTaxesTreasury/Records/Pages/RemoveInformation.aspx for more info.

For the Broward form, please click here: http://www.broward.org/RecordsTaxesTreasury/Records/Documents/cri03301.pdf

Request for Confidentiality in Miami-Dade: http://www.miami-dadeclerk.com/library/county_recorder/CONFIDENTIALITY.pdf

Palm Beach County info: http://www.mypalmbeachclerk.com/privacy/ssnbanknumbers.aspx and form: http://www.mypalmbeachclerk.com/uploadedFiles/RemovalSSNumber.pdf

To block any private record information, you will first need to do a name search and review the various documents because you need the Official Records Book and Page Number of the document you want protected. Identity theft is a terrible crime that often takes years to recover from; please take a moment to ensure that your sensitive information is not open for all to see in the Public Records. In addition, the next time you sign a document look to see what personal information of yours is listed therein if that document will subsequently be recorded in the Public Records.

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