Friday, November 11, 2005

Identity Theft Prevention with Public Records Opt Out

Credit and marketing lists you can opt out
from...meaning you can contact the various credit
bureaus and marketing list data brokers (like Acxiom)
to have your name removed from their promotional
mailings file.

This action will eliminate you from automatically
receiving unsolicited "pre-approved" credit offers
that identity thieves can steal from your mail box to
commit credit and social security number fraud in your
name. Also, removing your name from the marketing
lists the large data brokers like Acxiom sell will
help to reduce your id theft potential.

Note, though, you will still need to contact your
individual lenders and other businesses you already
have an account relationship with to request an opt
out from their junk mailings.

However, unlike credit and marketing lists, you can
not opt out by law from public records
. Public records
are created and maintained by government agencies and
are open for public inspection by just about anyone
who's interested and willing to pay the fee (when necessary).

Examples of what's defined as public records include:

  • real-estate records
  • lawsuit filing records
  • birth, marriage and divorce records
  • motor vehicle data

But, non-public information held by Choicepoint,
Acxiom, Westlaw, and others you can control.
"Non-public" information about an individual
that is data that's privately owned and is not
available to the general public record.

Non-public information includes:

  • a person's name
  • their current and previous addresses
  • their Social Security number
  • any alias names, maiden names or previous married
    names

Other non-governmental sources make data available to
the general public. Those sources can include:

  • newspapers and other publications
  • telephone directories
  • classified ads

Many people incorrectly believe that some information
such as social security numbers (SSN) or mothers'
maiden names are "non-public".

This is not always true.

For example, while individuals may believe generally
that their mother's maiden name is a "private" fact
(credit grantors may treat this data as private or
secure) birth records are public record in every
state.
Since birth records typically contain the
maiden name of the maternal parent the information is
not only private - it's a public record.
Similarly, social security numbers (SSN) are often
included in public records such as lawsuit filings,
driving records and bankruptcy records.

So, unless you are a judge or public official that
believes your personal identifying information
exposes you to harm or if are a victim of identity
theft
, you can not request removal from,
Westlaw as an example, non-public information
databases.

This does not mean, however, you're totally powerless
to fight proliferation of public information
about you - especially if it's inaccurate. You can
contact vendors to request suppressing your
non-public information they've compiled.

We recommend you can request a copy of your public
records on file from various on-line services which
publish this type of information to verify it's
correct. It's not uncommon to have your name confused
with someone else who could have negative information
on file which could cost you an opportunity for a new
job or could even be examples of actual identity theft
fraud. One of our editors, recently discovered
a person in another state who held the same last and
first name but had a violent criminal and bankruptcy
on his public records.

Our editor only discovered this fact of record when he
ran his full public information profile (PIP).

But, realize any errors will require you to go back to
the individual source for corrections. Plus, the
on-line services will still include your public
information for skip tracing and lawful purposes.

So our tip for today is check out a few of these
sources to conduct your own public record background
check for limited opt out and errors on your file.

Acxiom
send an email to optoutus@acxiom.com or
by calling 1-877-774-2094

Westlaw
For identity theft
or for questions

Additionally, if you want to (like one of our editors) run an exhaustive public information profile on your name, we recommend this very good source.

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