“If you are worried about a thief stealing your identity, it's not your wallet that needs guarding — it's your state and local governments.”
The “Virginia Watchdog” has raised security/privacy consciousness 10 fold. Her name is BJ Ostergren she runs http://www.TheVirginiaWatchdog.com
She is a heroine for modern privacy concerns. The Virginia Watchdog is attempting to save what is left of our privacy by getting in the face local politicians.
Check out her interview with CNN and the Washington Post.
While there are some reactive and proactive measure that you can take to guard against ID theft, it is a bit disconcerting to think that no matter how many bank statements and bill invoices you shred all your data can be stolen from an office like the DMV or VA that has all of your personal information.
It is bad when government employees lose a database of personal records but in my opinion it is much worse if they make your social security number public on purpose.
“Public records laws were designed to shed the light on government activities, not our personal information,” said Kerry Smith, an attorney with Public Interest Research Groups, a coalition of state consumer advocacy organizations. States are “clearly not striking the right balance when they release our Social Security numbers — the key to our financial identity — to commercial data brokers and anyone with access to the Internet.”
The major move of hard copes to softcopies came from a string of laws that were set forth in the 90's:
Government Paperwork Elimination Act in 1998
Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996
Paperwork Reduction Act
Federal, state and local government agencies have complied the paperless government laws. Now those electronic documents are finding their way on Internet. These documents include mortgage, tax and property anything you might find as the County Clerks office. The data (a portion of your digital signature: name, DOB, SSN) is (in some cases) being bought and sold to the highest bidder.
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