Courts to block access to documents


Wednesday, March 12th 2008, 10:35 pm
By: News 9


By Stacey Cameron, NEWS 9

Attention has come to the clerk's office for posting social security numbers on public documents for online users to view. Erasing social security numbers will come at a cost, however.

"It's around $200,000," County Clerk Carolynn Caudill said.

The estimated number of social security numbers that are online is at approximately 400,000.

At the County Clerk's office, numerous types of government records are documented, bound in a book and eventually placed on a shelf. By law, it's all available for public inspection. Wanting to make land records more accessible, Oklahoma County developed its Web site, and about two years ago put copies of every deed, mortgage and tax lien online.

It's a great public service, but there is a problem.

Search land records, pull a tax lien, and you might find someone's social security number or other detailed private information. When Oklahoma County went online with property records, they didn't worry about publishing social security numbers.

"They didn't think these records were a big issue," Caudill said.

Craig Davis helps the AARP fight identity theft online. He said putting anyone's social number on a government Web site is big a problem, even if the Web site helps more people than it hurts.

"We're all for free information, but we just believe consumer's information needs to be safeguarded at all costs," Davis said.

If you are worried about you personal information, the county's Web site has a form you can fill out to have your sensitive information pulled from all public records.

There are no plans to pull the site offline.

Oklahoma County Web site: http://www.oklahomacounty.org/