Zero/I just can't keep the numbers in their place. Ray’s Dad’s Cadillac, Copyright © 1988, 1991; Crazy Crow Music
Subscriber Lisa M. Greason, a Carlisle attorney, provides our October Tip of the Month.
She notes that some attorneys are in the habit of listing client Social Security numbers in pleadings and public filings, when such disclosure is not required by the rules governing the proceedings in question. She points out that the revelation of a client’s Social Security number in a public proceeding opens the client up to a risk of fraud through identity theft. Drivers’ license numbers are also highly sensitive information. These articles from the Electronic Privacy Information Center and Consumer Reports illustrate how information such as Social Security numbers and drivers license numbers can be used by identity thieves to cause the numbers’ owners immense injury.
Attorneys who are professional and conscientious about protecting their clients from identity theft and fraud should think carefully about what information is needed in public documents and what should be protected.
Rule 509(b)(2) of the Pennsylvania Rules of Judicial Administration provides that financial records in the possession of the Unified Judicial System setting forth a person’s social security number, home address, home telephone number, date of birth, operator's license number, e-mail address, financial institution account numbers, credit card numbers, personal identification numbers (PINs) and passwords used to secure accounts, and “any part of a record setting forth information presenting a risk to personal security [or] personal privacy” are not available to the public. Diligent attorneys may find it useful to consider whether these types of information should be revealed in documents filed for public access.
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