I am sorry that information is Public.

The following post originally ran June 27,2008. I’m repeating this post so that you don’t miss a thing.

Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time there was a guy called Pete. One day Pete wanted to drive a car, so he went to the DMV and got a license. Another day Pete wanted to get married so he went to the courthouse and got a license. Then Pete and his bride moved. They went to the Post Office and changed their address. A while later Pete wanted a house. So he took out a mortgage and signed his name to a bunch of papers.

Suddenly Pete started getting lots of mail offers for things like credit cards. He expected that so while he found them annoying, they were fun to put through the shredder. Then Pete started getting offers for refinancing his mortgage and for home equity loans. “Hey,” thought Pete, “how do these companies know that I have mortgage? Oooooh I bet that lousy credit union told them! Can’t they keep my business private.”

Feeling quite betrayed by his favorite credit union, Pete picked up the phone to find out what was going on. But when he talked to the nice people at the credit union they didn’t know what he was talking about. Pete was confused. How could this happen?

It’s simple. All those things that Pete did in the first paragraph, that we all do because we’re supposed to…. Well, they all triggered action in his “Public Record”. And anybody who wants to pay a fee can access that information. Solicitors are required to put a little tiny often lightly colored phrase that lets you know that “information was obtained via public record”. Don’t quote me on the specifics of how they have to word or present this, but you get the idea.

Every state has different laws about public records. In Colorado driver’s information actually can’t be disclosed. But some states actively sell their driver’s license information.

For Pete’s sake can’t this be stopped??? Sure, stop direct mail solicitations by visiting the Direct Marketing Association’s opt-out website.

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