Kentucky County Deletes Sensitive Information From Public Records

October 20, 2014

Jefferson County has spent years erasing Social Security numbers from some public records in an effort to protect against identity theft.

Before officials began the effort in 2010, hundreds of thousands of Social Security numbers in the state’s largest county were available for public viewing on some land records.

The county clerk’s office announced on Wednesday that it had completed the long-term project, according to media reports. Mortgages, tax liens and deeds are all published online, and up until this week, many had Social Security numbers attached.

At a Wednesday morning news conference Jefferson County Clerk Bobbi Holsclaw said about 2,000 cases of identity theft were reported in Kentucky in 2013. About 700 of those were in Jefferson County. Holsclaw said she is not aware of any identify-theft cases that came from records in the clerk’s office.

She said she wants to be proactive and “not wait for a problem.”

She has called for a state law that would eliminate any requirement for a Social Security number to be put on a state government document. She said state and federal tax liens no longer require Social Security numbers.

The county spent about $400,000 on the project to erase the Social Security numbers, and employees used special software to go through 22 million pages of documents.

Officials believe they have erased 300,000 Social Security numbers from documents since the project started in 2010.

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