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License to steal

Identity theft is a huge concern these days. People are always being warned to be very careful of personal information, to only entrust it to those bodies that have a proven need to have it.

But what happens when you are required to provide personal information such as your Social Security number, birth date, address, and medical information to an agency that doesn't take precautions to protect that information? Well, you can sue them.

Unless, of course, it's the government of Massachusetts itself.

It turns out that the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles, when they need to dispose of papers that contain such sensitive information, just dumps it out on the curb -- unshredded and unguarded -- and lets it sit there for the contractor to come along and collect it for disposal. The Boston Herald investigated one RMV branch and saw buckets of papers sit in an unlocked bin for hours on end.

I strongly suspect that that policy will be changing soon (even if it means someone goes out and buys a couple of padlocks), but it's a damned shame that it takes a Boston Herald investigation to put an end to this practice.

A damned shame, but no great surprise. This is, after all, Massachusetts we're talking about here.

Comments (3)

Today is a bad day to pose ... (Below threshold)

Today is a bad day to pose the issue of local and state governements. Bad day in my experience, and the notion that governments act logically and sensibly wears rather bleakly thin for me today...another story, as to my experience, but, then, not really.

I've got one for you, Jay. ... (Below threshold)

I've got one for you, Jay. My wife had to head over to the the DMV (Connecticut) last week for her license renewal. Basically they take your picture and hand you the new license. No surprise there.

So what happens to the old license?

It goes in the clerk's regular garbage pail, along with the candy wrappers, coffee cups, etc. No shredder, at least not at the clerks' stations. But since the old licenses get trashed along with the rest of the regular garbage, I've got to believe the'yre out there in the dumpster for any industrious identity thief looking for a photo id...

That must be one of the rea... (Below threshold)

That must be one of the reasons Massachusetts' taxes are so high. They're not as smart as the Illinois DMV - unless things have changed since the last time I looked into this, they openly SELL this information in bulk to anyone with a checkbook.

Public records, to hear them tell it...






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