Identity theft is continuing to grow as a national problem. It has always been the policy of the Westchester County Clerk’s Office that all filed and recorded documents be readily available to the public. Advances in technology over the past few years have made the preservation and accessibility of records even more improved. But these improvements have also made it more convenient for those who wish to use this information for inappropriate purposes.
In order to stem the accessibility of personal identifying information for those wishing to misuse it, the Westchester County Clerk’s Office is implementing some simple changes to their system which they believe will not impair the title industry or its work.
In their Legal Division, there will be no noticeable changes. All documents filed will be coded as required by applicable scaling statutes, and previously related documents will continue to be coded as Privacy Domain. All prior procedures as to access permission remain in place.
In their Land Records Division, there will be two changes that will affect the public. First, the cover letter submitted will include a preprinted statement at the bottom as follows:
“Please note that documents may be returned because they contain personal identifying information such as a social security number, bank or credit card number or driver’s license number or date of birth. It is the policy of the Westchester County Clerk’s Office to protect personal privacy.”
This policy will not pertain to any document that requires a social security number such as a Federal Tax Lien.
Should anyone insist that the document be filed “as is”, they will do so. However, they are making every attempt to protect the client from identity theft and ask that everyone assist them in this measure by not placing non-mandated personal identifying information on said documents. They will be making the same request of the local bar associations.
Federal Tax Liens will only be made available on-site through the public viewer or by web viewer for those with a subscription to the service. This is their attempt to keep someone from anonymously obtaining those numbers.
They will continue to work with everyone to insure prompt service to the title industry while protecting their residents from identity theft.