Had court business? Your personal info is on-line - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Had court business? Your personal info is on-line

By Jim Wallace - bio | email

January 12, 2009

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - If you're involved in a court case in Dougherty County, could you be at risk of identity theft?

The Clerk of Courts has gotten complaints from people whose personal information such as Social Security Numbers and Dates of Birth are on the county web site. The Clerk's Office can't legally change court records, but they will work with people who don't want that information posted online.

  "The concern is that somebody in India going to the website and pulling the Social Security, birthdays, and addresses and using that to obtain credit cards. That's my concern," Attorney Phil Cannon said.

But the Clerk's Office says Georgia law prohibits them from changing any of the records sent to their office, even the personal information.

"It's out of our control," Chief Deputy Clerk Linda Blanchard said. "The paperwork comes from the Sheriff's and the Police Department. We can't go out there and change their records."

Everything on the website is also available to anyone walking into the Clerk's Office. The Clerk's website is a tool to help the public and attorney's obtain those open court records. But after hearing the concerns, the Clerk's Office will help anyone who wants their personal information taken off the website.

"If they are concerned enough to come down here, we will go in there and delete the Social Security Number they are asking us to do. And we will be able to work with them," Blanchard said.

You must come to the Clerk's office at the Courthouse in person to have your file deleted. The Clerk's office and attorneys say the Georgia Legislature would have to pass new law in order to keep that personal information from appearing in open court records.

The Dougherty County Clerk's Office said they consulted the Georgia Superior Court Clerk's Cooperative Authority and the State Attorney General's Office after hearing complaints.

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