Thursday, June 23, 2005
First of all, the www.masslandrecords.com website will be down for equipment repairs this coming weekend from 5 p.m. on Friday, June 24, 2005 to 7 a.m. on Monday, June 27, 2005, so get your work done now and enjoy the weekend. Today’s Globe had a story on the business page about how some social security numbers are present in documents on registry of deeds websites. We’ve been aware of this situation – and its implications for identity theft risks - for some time. We have refused to record documents containing social security numbers, requiring the person doing the recording to cross out the number and, when someone calls our attention to a number that already exists in our system, we have deleted the social security number from it. Of course, we have not applied either of these policies to state and federal tax liens although the full social security numbers shouldn’t be there, either. Some quickly say “who would want to steal the identity of someone who is a tax delinquent” but the tax delinquent of 1985 could easily be the prominent businessman of 2005. His economic situation has changed significantly, but his social security number hasn’t. Over the past two days, the majority of the Commonwealth’s registers and assistant registers of deeds met at our annual meeting. One of our big undertakings was to revise and update our Deed Indexing Standards which have been in effect since January 1, 2000 (more on the updates will appear in this blog over the coming days). But given the legitimate concerns of identity theft, we formally adopted a statewide policy, to be effective July 1, 2005, regarding social security numbers in registry documents. Here it is: (1) No document containing a social security number shall be accepted for recording. This rule shall not apply to state or federal tax liens or to releases of state or federal tax liens and (2) Anytime a social security number is discovered in a previously recorded document, the registry of deeds shall take such steps as are necessary to redact such numbers, however, the registry of deeds shall retain a copy of the original, un-redacted record in a non-public file. This rule shall not apply to state or federal tax liens or releases of state or federal tax liens.
Posted by Dick at 6/23/2005 04:25:00 PM