News

County Register of Deeds Calls for Tougher Identity Theft Law



This article appeared in Wednesday, June 14, 2006 courtesy of News and Review

By Nick Hiltunen

News in Review Staff

 

Calling a state identity theft law "too weak," Johnston County Register of Deeds Craig Olive said last Thursday that he is lobbying the NC legislature to allow him to remove Social Security numbers from public documents his office handles -- without requiring a specific request.

 

"Right now, you have to tell me what book and what page number your Social Security number is listed on" to get it removed, Olive told an audience of 12 at the Benson Senior Center.

 

Olive already has software capable of removing those numbers automatically, he said, and feels he should be able to use that capability without collecting specific requests from every interested party.

 

"You would be surprised at how many (Social Security numbers) we do have in our system," Olive said of an approximate 50,000 documents processed yearly in his office, "But, by that law (Senate Bill 1048, the Identity Theft Protection Act of 2005), I cannot do anything."

 

With that information, the Clayton Republican added, "someone can steal your identity, and it has been done."

 

The legislature agreed with Olive's assessment in Section 4 of the Identity Theft Protection Act's body. 

 

"The Social Security number can be used as a tool to perpetuate fraud against a person and to acquire sensitive personal information," the law states.

 

Olive said change is required.

 

"That law should allow us to find all the numbers and go ahead and cover them up for the citizens," Olive said, "Down in Florida and other states, that's the way it's being done."

 

Almost 10 million Americans dealt with identity theft in 2003, costing consumers $5 billion and businesses $48 billion, a U.S. Department of Justice Internet site states.

 

Olive's appearance was the second in a series of three county leaders visiting Benson seniors.  Like recent visitor Rick Hester, the county manager, he passed out gratuity pens.  He also campaigned for the November general election.

 

Olive described his personal life, taking care of his 81-year-old mother, an Alzheimer’s patient, and his brother Jerry, who has Down’s syndrome, at their Clayton home of the past 25, years.

 

Olive told the seniors they could expect changes in the Register Of Deeds Office.      

 

By July, of next year, a person born in any NC county will be able to get a birth certificate from Olive’s office, the registrar said.

 

“I’ve been pushing for that for a long time,” Olive said nothing that Harnett County has been a testing ground for the service.

 

The registrar said visits to his office may become less and less necessary with the implementation of new technology.

 

“Hopefully, by next year, we’ll be able to accept e(electronic)-recordings, so it will prevent anybody from having to travel down to the office,” Olive said.

 

Olive describes his new recording system installed in September, which he said,” offers instantaneous records on-line,” including such things as plat maps.

 

That has been a postage savings, he said. Where the office had spent an average of $12,000 a month on metered mail, it is now spending only about $5,000 to deliver records to people requesting them, he said.

“For the next five years, we’re saving the county over $300,000.” He said.



 

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Smithfield, NC 27577