Data Theft in Ohio Prompts Court to Limit Public Web Access

July 27, 2007

An Ohio woman’s personal information was stolen from the Franklin County Municipal Court Web site and used to open fraudulent credit cards, prompting the court clerk to limit public access to the site, authorities said earlier this week.

By plugging numbers into the court’s public Web site, thieves obtained the woman’s name, address, date of birth and Social Security number, said Lt. Doug Francis of the police department in suburban Worthington.

The thieves applied for credit reports and requested new credit cards from banks and lending agencies in the woman’s name, police said.

The Worthington resident reported fraudulent credit card activity to police.

Court Clerk Lori Tyack said she responded Tuesday by shutting down access to Social Security numbers and Ohio driver’s license numbers on the Web site. Those search functions were legitimately used by law enforcement and employers for background checks on job applicants.

The Web site, which has permitted public searches of court records since 2001, has been changed to allow searches only by name, Tyack said.

Worthington police are investigating a man and woman, both from Columbus, in the case. No charges have been filed.

Authorities seized financial documents, credit cards, checkbooks and tax returns while searching two residences last week, Worthington police said in a news release Tuesday.

“They were buying shoes and clothes. There were piles and piles of clothing in the one apartment we searched,” Francis said. “Their house was lined with credit cards, receipts, checkbooks and W-2 forms.”

Franklin County Municipal Court:


Information from: The Columbus Dispatch,

AP-ES-07-25-07 0048EDT


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