State Law Would Deny ID Thieves Access To Social Security Numbers Via Public Documents

Thomas P. Morahan

February 28, 2006

Senator Thomas P. Morahanannouncedthat he has filed legislation which would amend the public officers law to permit public officers, including county clerks to be able to redact personally identifying information, such as a social security number, prior to providing access to the public or publishing such a record on the agency’s website or on the internet.


"Identity theft has become a serious problem. Currently, County Clerks have to provide documents in response to Freedom of Information Law requests, or via official postings via the internet. Prior to this legislation, public officers had little choice but to include in public postings such confidential data as social security numbers, a mother’s maiden name, and the place and date of birth of any person. This law would enable public officers to keep such data away from the identiy thief," said Senator Morahan.

The Senator, who represents Rockland County and a portion of Orange County noted that Rockland had 369 cases of ID Theft in 2005, one of the highest rates in NY. The Senator recently filed legislation in the State Senate which would prohibit a person or entity from:

Ÿ publicly printing a person’s social security number on any card required for such person to access products or services

Ÿ requiring a person to transmit his or her social security number over the internet, unless the connection is secure or the number is encrypted

Ÿ requiring a person to use his or her social security number to access a web-site, unless a password or unique personal identification number or authentication devices is also required for access

Ÿ printing a person’s social security number on any materials that are mailed to such person, unless state or federal law requires the number to be on the document.

Ÿ encoding or embedding a social security number in or on a card or document

In addition, the Senator filed legislation to increase the penalty for misuse of a skimmer, a mini device which is secretly utilized by ID thieves to get credit card data.

Senator Morahan’s Public Officers ID Theft legislation is being sponsored in the Assembly by Assembly Member Kenneth Zebrowski.