Public registries have always been public, but putting them online can pose particular risks because they are so easily accessible and can be readily harvested by identity thieves. Today's Boston Globe is running a story on the information that available through Massacusetts' government websites, the risks they pose and what legislators are planning to do about it.
State's online records pose risk - The Boston Globe - Boston.com - Technology - Business:
"...Public documents that sometimes contain names and Social Security numbers include state and federal tax liens, Massachusetts Health liens, child support liens, and, less frequently, mortgages, said registers of deeds.
Although registers of deeds said that they are unaware of cases in which criminals used information from their databases maliciously, the information contained in the documents would be more than enough to steal an identity and open new lines of credit, said Eric Bourassa, a consumer advocate with the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group who deals with identity theft issues.
''Once you get someone's name, address, and Social Security number you can really create a fake identity,' said Bourassa. ''This is really bad.'..."