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August 13th, 2008

Social Security Numbers Displayed On Maryland Courts Website

Drivers in Virginia and Washington, D.C. whose driver’s licenses have their Social Security numbers and who got traffic tickets in Maryland will find those numbers and other personal information on a Maryland state Web site. Maryland has never used Social Security numbers when issuing driver’s licenses, but Virginia and the District have.

Traffic citations are listed in Maryland’s court records, which the state makes publicly accessible online. The traffic citation records show a person’s full name, address, sex, height, weight, birth date and driver’s license number, which is sometimes the same as driver`s Social Security number. Currently, a quick search for a popular name on the state’s Judiciary Case Search Web site will instantly pull up thousands of records spanning more than 30 years.

Virginia ended the practice in July 2003, although drivers were able to keep their old licenses until they expired, which in some cases was not until this year. Washington began offering drivers the option of having random numbers on their driver’s licenses instead of their Social Security numbers in 2001. Washington stopped issuing licenses with Social Security numbers on them altogether after federal regulations banned the practice in 2004.

The problem remains since Maryland’s court records date back decades, and drivers from D.C., Virginia or any state that once used Social Security numbers on licenses will find their Social Security numbers online today if they received Maryland tickets during that time.

A spokesman for the Maryland courts system was not immediately able to determine whether the number could be removed from the public record at the person’s request. People who find their Social Security numbers listed on the Web site can place a fraud alert with one of the three major credit bureaus at no charge. People who find their numbers listed on the Website should place a fraud alert with a credit bureau immediately.

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