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  • States restrict access to vital records, but fraud grows

    http://www.onnnews.com/Global/story.asp?S=2241052

    States restrict access to vital records, but fraud grows
    Email to a Friend Printer Friendly Version



    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Four-thousand, five-hundred and seventy-seven.


    That's how many copies of birth certificates someone once requested from a
    state office, said Mark Kassouf, chief fraud officer for the Ohio Department of
    Health. Employees were immediately suspicious but, by law, had to provide the
    documents.

    "It wasn't for personal use; I can guarantee that," Kassouf said. "They were
    looking at those to find ideal candidates for identity theft."

    Ohio and about 14 other open-records states face a dilemma involving birth and
    death records. State officials say they've closed some loopholes in the law
    that can leave residents vulnerable to identity theft or the country vulnerable
    to terrorism. But they and federal authorities also say the document fraud
    problem is growing.

    Meanwhile, adoptee and genealogy groups are pushing for more access to birth
    and death indexes, the records thieves use to request documents in someone
    else's name.

    In law enforcement circles, those documents are called breeder documents,
    because criminals use them to breed a financial clone of an identity theft
    victim or proof of citizenship.

    Government documents fraud was involved in 17,192 cases of identity theft
    reported in 2003, up 4,246 cases from the previous year, according to the
    Federal Trade Commission. Overall, the fraud accounted for 8 percent of the
    almost 215,000 cases of identity theft reported by consumers in 2003.

    The FTC said its numbers may understate the problem because consumers often
    don't know how fraud against them was committed.

    The documents dilemma is complicated by the fact that vital statistics records
    are kept in a decentralized system at state and local levels. States try to
    close loopholes by using security paper, seals and applications for access, but
    getting hundreds of records registrars to comply with those steps is another
    matter, said Richard McCoy, director of public health statistics for Vermont.

    His state has almost 250 town clerks who can issue copies of certificates.
    About a dozen of them don't use security paper because it's more expensive than
    plain paper, McCoy said. State law doesn't require security paper.

    "That is frustrating because it does open us up to fraud issues," McCoy added.

    Judith Collins, director of the Identity Theft University-Business Partnership
    in Michigan State University's School of Criminal Justice, said the tools for
    breeder documents fraud are readily available to thieves. Collins and her staff
    track identity theft online, train law enforcement officers and assess theft
    risks for businesses.

    As part of their research, her staff printed a 3 1/2 inch-thick binder full of
    thousands of names and Social Security numbers from the Internet.

    "Identities are out there," Collins said. "Data is going to be increasingly
    kept in databases. The answer is to secure the borders of those businesses who
    have the databases, to ensure the people working in their business are honest."

    Keeping vital statistics in electronic databases is a priority for the National
    Association for Public Health Statistics and Information Systems in Silver
    Spring, Md., said its executive director, Kenneth Beam. But, he said, those
    databases should be for government eyes only.

    Beam said national databases would help prevent breeder documents fraud, by
    allowing government employees to check the validity of other states' documents
    against the electronic record.

    The recently published report by the commission that investigated the Sept. 11,
    2001, terrorist attacks recommended such a federal system for issuing birth
    certificates.

    At last count in 2002, Beam's statistics association knew of 14 open-records
    states, he said.

    Last summer Ohio increased copying fees for certificates and required an
    application and that all state offices use the same security paper and seals.

    In 2002, California limited access by requiring that the state registrar
    produce separate birth and death indexes for public view that didn't list
    Social Security numbers or other sensitive information. The legislation's
    sponsor showed Senate colleagues that she could go to a genealogy Web site and
    find her mother's maiden name _ a common identifier at banks.

    In similar fashion, Texas removed its indexes from the state's Web site in
    2003, citing fraud concerns.

    Still, the problem isn't going away. Ohio still is told by the regional New
    Orleans Passport Agency and the Department of Homeland Security that its
    documents are part of a large fraud problem, Kassouf said. He said he expects
    to see a problem with death certificates, which in Ohio list Social Security
    numbers.

    As fraud concerns lead the remaining open-records states to restrict access,
    adoptee organizations are pushing for the opposite, said Adam Pertman,
    executive director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute in New York, a
    national nonprofit dedicated to improving adoption policy.

    He said people who could prove they were adoptees should have access to indexes
    because they often can't get what they seek from just one birth or death
    record.

    Jack Brissee, chair of the vital records, access and preservation committee of
    the National Genealogical Society, said genealogists need access as well.

    "We're hurting because of concerns about identity theft, which we don't engage
    in," he said. "The type of information we need isn't contributing to identity
    theft."

    But open access to that information can lead to identity theft and aid
    terrorists by helping them secure U.S. passports, said Stuart Patt, spokesman
    for the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs. All but one of the Sept.
    11 hijackers had some form of U.S. identification, the Sept. 11 commission
    report said. Some of those documents were obtained through fraud.

    "The biggest concern is that someone who is trying to conceal his true identity
    and his true nationality would suddenly have what is essentially the best proof
    of American citizenship," Patt said.


    -------------------------
    A good friend will come and bail you out of jail . . . but, a true friend will
    be sitting next to you saying, "**** . . . that was fun!"
    -----Unknown

  • #2
    States restrict access to vital records, but fraud grows


    "LilMtnCbn" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]
    http://www.onnnews.com/Global/story.asp?S=2241052 States restrict access to vital records, but fraud grows...
    snipped
    Here in Ontario the procedure for birth certificate application has changed
    and you must have someone (i.e. a lawyer) vouch for your identity at the
    time of application.

    I've done a number of these requests now.

    Another instance of lawyers being appointed gate keepers of the security of
    the nation. We do passport applications, tourist agent applications etc.

    Doug Thomas



    Comment


    • #3
      States restrict access to vital records, but fraud grows


      What bull. Especially about Ohio. Kassouf reportedly told a staff meeting
      about two years ago that adoptees and genealogists are "scum" and he named
      me personally as one of the "scum." And as for the hike in fee--it had
      nothing to do with "security," It was about generating revenue. They
      stopped issuing non certified copies for 3 cents each plus postage and now
      any document from his department costs $12. That may change. A bill has
      been introduced to roll back the fees to what they were.

      Marley



      MtnCbn" <[email protected]> wrote in message
      news:[email protected]
      http://www.onnnews.com/Global/story.asp?S=2241052 States restrict access to vital records, but fraud grows Email to a Friend Printer Friendly Version COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Four-thousand, five-hundred and seventy-seven. That's how many copies of birth certificates someone once requested from a state office, said Mark Kassouf, chief fraud officer for the Ohio
      Department of
      Health. Employees were immediately suspicious but, by law, had to provide
      the
      documents. "It wasn't for personal use; I can guarantee that," Kassouf said. "They
      were
      looking at those to find ideal candidates for identity theft." Ohio and about 14 other open-records states face a dilemma involving birth
      and
      death records. State officials say they've closed some loopholes in the
      law
      that can leave residents vulnerable to identity theft or the country
      vulnerable
      to terrorism. But they and federal authorities also say the document fraud problem is growing. Meanwhile, adoptee and genealogy groups are pushing for more access to
      birth
      and death indexes, the records thieves use to request documents in someone else's name. In law enforcement circles, those documents are called breeder documents, because criminals use them to breed a financial clone of an identity theft victim or proof of citizenship. Government documents fraud was involved in 17,192 cases of identity theft reported in 2003, up 4,246 cases from the previous year, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Overall, the fraud accounted for 8 percent of
      the
      almost 215,000 cases of identity theft reported by consumers in 2003. The FTC said its numbers may understate the problem because consumers
      often
      don't know how fraud against them was committed. The documents dilemma is complicated by the fact that vital statistics
      records
      are kept in a decentralized system at state and local levels. States try
      to
      close loopholes by using security paper, seals and applications for
      access, but
      getting hundreds of records registrars to comply with those steps is
      another
      matter, said Richard McCoy, director of public health statistics for
      Vermont.
      His state has almost 250 town clerks who can issue copies of certificates. About a dozen of them don't use security paper because it's more expensive
      than
      plain paper, McCoy said. State law doesn't require security paper. "That is frustrating because it does open us up to fraud issues," McCoy
      added.
      Judith Collins, director of the Identity Theft University-Business
      Partnership
      in Michigan State University's School of Criminal Justice, said the tools
      for
      breeder documents fraud are readily available to thieves. Collins and her
      staff
      track identity theft online, train law enforcement officers and assess
      theft
      risks for businesses. As part of their research, her staff printed a 3 1/2 inch-thick binder
      full of
      thousands of names and Social Security numbers from the Internet. "Identities are out there," Collins said. "Data is going to be
      increasingly
      kept in databases. The answer is to secure the borders of those businesses
      who
      have the databases, to ensure the people working in their business are
      honest."
      Keeping vital statistics in electronic databases is a priority for the
      National
      Association for Public Health Statistics and Information Systems in Silver Spring, Md., said its executive director, Kenneth Beam. But, he said,
      those
      databases should be for government eyes only. Beam said national databases would help prevent breeder documents fraud,
      by
      allowing government employees to check the validity of other states'
      documents
      against the electronic record. The recently published report by the commission that investigated the
      Sept. 11,
      2001, terrorist attacks recommended such a federal system for issuing
      birth
      certificates. At last count in 2002, Beam's statistics association knew of 14
      open-records
      states, he said. Last summer Ohio increased copying fees for certificates and required an application and that all state offices use the same security paper and
      seals.
      In 2002, California limited access by requiring that the state registrar produce separate birth and death indexes for public view that didn't list Social Security numbers or other sensitive information. The legislation's sponsor showed Senate colleagues that she could go to a genealogy Web site
      and
      find her mother's maiden name _ a common identifier at banks. In similar fashion, Texas removed its indexes from the state's Web site in 2003, citing fraud concerns. Still, the problem isn't going away. Ohio still is told by the regional
      New
      Orleans Passport Agency and the Department of Homeland Security that its documents are part of a large fraud problem, Kassouf said. He said he
      expects
      to see a problem with death certificates, which in Ohio list Social
      Security
      numbers. As fraud concerns lead the remaining open-records states to restrict
      access,
      adoptee organizations are pushing for the opposite, said Adam Pertman, executive director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute in New
      York, a
      national nonprofit dedicated to improving adoption policy. He said people who could prove they were adoptees should have access to
      indexes
      because they often can't get what they seek from just one birth or death record. Jack Brissee, chair of the vital records, access and preservation
      committee of
      the National Genealogical Society, said genealogists need access as well. "We're hurting because of concerns about identity theft, which we don't
      engage
      in," he said. "The type of information we need isn't contributing to
      identity
      theft." But open access to that information can lead to identity theft and aid terrorists by helping them secure U.S. passports, said Stuart Patt,
      spokesman
      for the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs. All but one of the
      Sept.
      11 hijackers had some form of U.S. identification, the Sept. 11 commission report said. Some of those documents were obtained through fraud. "The biggest concern is that someone who is trying to conceal his true
      identity
      and his true nationality would suddenly have what is essentially the best
      proof
      of American citizenship," Patt said. ------------------------- A good friend will come and bail you out of jail . . . but, a true friend
      will
      be sitting next to you saying, "**** . . . that was fun!" -----Unknown

      Comment


      • #4
        States restrict access to vital records, but fraud grows


        "doug thomas" <[email protected]> wrote in message
        news:[email protected]
        "LilMtnCbn" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]m12.aol.com...
        http://www.onnnews.com/Global/story.asp?S=2241052 States restrict access to vital records, but fraud grows...
        snipped Here in Ontario the procedure for birth certificate application has
        changed
        and you must have someone (i.e. a lawyer) vouch for your identity at the time of application. I've done a number of these requests now. Another instance of lawyers being appointed gate keepers of the security
        of
        the nation. We do passport applications, tourist agent applications etc. Doug Thomas
        I will add that in Ohio anybody can ask for anything. I'm down at VS every
        two weeks or so doing it.

        Marley

        Comment

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