Private Investigators In Virginia

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Posts Tagged ‘SSN’

VA Freedom of Information Advisory Council

Posted by Bill on June 8, 2009

Interesting public records activity in Virginia.

The Virginia Freedom of Information Advisory Council, FOIA Council , is having a meeting today the Personal Identifying Information Subcommittee of the FOIA Council. Meeting is today, Monday, June 8, 2009, 1 p.m., in the Speaker’s Conference Room, Sixth Floor, General Assembly Building, 910 Capitol St., Richmond, VA.  See Memo and agenda HERE

Agenda includes:

Review of bills referred by the 2009 Session for further study by the FOIA Council:

Department of Game and Inland Fisheries; disclosure of official records; exceptions. Provides that records of the Department shall be subject to the disclosure provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, except that personal information, as defined in § 2.2-3801, of individual applicants for or holders of any hunting, fishing, boating, or trapping license issued by an agent of the Department shall be withheld from public disclosure, provided that such individuals have requested that the Department not disclose such information. However, statistical summaries, abstracts, or other records containing information in an aggregate form that does not identify individual applicants or licensees shall be disclosed. The bill provides, however, that such information may be released (i) in accordance with a proper judicial order, (ii) to any law-enforcement agency, officer, or authorized agent thereof acting in the performance of official law-enforcement duties, or (iii) to any person who is the subject of the record.

HB 2471 (Hugo); Freedom of Information Act; salary records of teachers. Provides that the disclosure of the names of individual teachers is not required under FOIA in response to a request for the official salary or rate of pay of employees of a local school board.

HB 2630 (Crockett-Stark); Law-Enforcement Officers’ Privacy Protection Act. Allows a law-enforcement officer to request that personal information about the officer be withheld from disclosure on public records. For purposes of the Act, “personal information” includes the officer’s name, social security number, address, phone number, and any other information that could be used to physically locate the officer. NOTE:  You will recall that Delegate Crockett-Stark was present at the April 27, 2009 FOIA Council meeting to discuss HB 2630.  She indicated that there is a similar law in place in Ohio that was enacted because a family member of a law enforcement officer was murdered after personal information about the officer was made available. She stated that her sheriff had requested a similar law in Virginia.  Staff noted that in Virginia personal information about public employees is exempt from FOIA; however, real property assessment records and court records are open to the public as a matter of law.   The Council noted that there are two competing policies at work in this instance– privacy versus a community’s awareness of the identity of its officers.  The Council asked Delegate Crockett-Stark to have her contact call Delegate Griffith to identify the specific issue of concern so that the scope of the bill could be narrowed to address the issue.

SB 1332 (Cuccinelli); Private entities operating, managing, or supervising any portion of the state highway system. Provides that a private entity that operates, manages, or supervises any portion of the state highway system and receives funding from the Commonwealth or any of its political subdivisions shall be considered a public body for purposes of the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (§ 2.2-3700 et seq.) of the Code of Virginia as it relates to that portion of the private entity’s business operations responsible for operating, managing, or supervising the portion of the state highway system. 

At the April 27, 2009 FOIA Council meeting, members of the Council agreed that the issue behind this bill was unclear.  Senator Griffith directed staff to re-invite Senator Cuccinelli to address the Council at its next meeting.  Therefore no action is required by the Subcommittee at this time.
Social Security Numbers and the Government Data Collection and Dissemination Practices Act (GDCDPA):

Collection of SSNs: The Council has already indicated its intent to continue studying this area, which will coincide with the analysis of the results of last year’s survey regarding collection and use of SSNs.  This year’s study will focus on identifying and eliminating the unnecessary collection of SSNs by government. It is hoped that by limiting collection in the first instance, the need for additional protections to be added later will be reduced or eliminated.  In addition, because the SSN survey produced an unexpectedly large volume of responses that necessitated additional time for analysis, SB 1318/HB 2426 were passed in 2009 as recommendations of the FOIA Council to delay until 2010 the implementation date prohibiting the collection of an individual’s social security number unless collection of such number is (i) authorized or required by state or federal law and (ii) essential for the performance of that agency’s duties.  Note that in light of HB 2427 (May), establishing the Protection of Social Security Numbers Act, as discussed below, the Council needs to decide what further action, if any, needs to be taken

Disclosure of SSNs: HB 2427 (May) establishes the Protection of Social Security Numbers Act (the Act), which will become effective July 1, 2009.  In brief, the Act exempts from FOIA the first five digits of SSNs except under certain limited circumstances, and provides penalties for improper disclosure.  The final four digits of SSNs found in public records will remain open to public disclosure under FOIA.   In past meetings the Council has debated the merits of this and other protective schemes that would limit the disclosure of SSNs.  Again, the Act’s passage in 2009 raises the question of whether any further action regarding disclosure of SSNs is necessary at this time, and if so, what form should that action take.

Bill Lowrance


Posted in attorneys, Investigations, lawyers, PIAVA, private detective, private investigations, private investigator, private investigators, Public Records, Research, Virginia | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

VA HB 1087 Reported Dead (Closed Some Public Records)

Posted by Bill on February 22, 2008

virginia.jpg  The Virginia legislature’s HB 1087 provided “that the social security number of any individual contained in the public records of a local government shall be confidential and exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act. The bill provides, however, that a social security number may be released (i) in accordance with a proper judicial order; (ii) to any law-enforcement agency, officer, or authorized agent thereof acting in the performance of official law-enforcement duties;”

PIAVA advised the appropriate committees and individual legislators that DCJS licensed security businesses and private investigators should have access to identifying data in court records to ensure “due process of law” and fair trails in civil and criminal litigation matters.  Our reasoning is that a “fair trial” is a constitutional issue.  If the Commonwealth Attorney (Prosecutor) and the law enforcement have access to identifying data in public records, private investigators should have the same access so that a person’s right to a “fair trial” is not compromised. 

PIAVA attended several sub-committee hearings on the bill.  Richmond Sunlight Click Here, reports that HB 1087 was finally referred to the General Laws Committee where it remains today.  They report that the bill is dead. 

PIAVA hopes that the legislature will work to ensure fairness in access to public records while at the same time safeguarding an individual’s right to privacy.  PIAVA is prepared to assist the legislature or offer any helpful information for insight into the private investigation industry.

Posted in attorneys, crime, Investigations, law enforcement, lawyers, PIAVA, private detective, private investigations, private investigators, Public Records, Research, Virginia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

FTC SSN Workshop–What’s It Mean?

Posted by Bill on December 13, 2007

  ftc-web.jpg     The FTC had a two day workshop “to explore the uses of Social Security numbers in the private sector and the role of SSNs in identity theft.”  The workshop is part of the work of the President’s Identity Theft Task Force to reduce “unnecessary uses of the SSN.”   Various groups and individuals attended the workshop representing government, private business and consumers.  The focus of discussions was how SSNs are used by business and the government and how limiting access to a person’s SSN will prevent identity theft.  There was a lot of discussion defining and distinguishing use of the SSN as an identifier and an authenticator, how the SSN is used as such, and what alternative means of using the SSN as an identifier/authencator is available. 

Some consumer groups and private groups believe that the SSN should not be used for an identifier/authenticator, and that a different of identifying identity should be implemented.  The business and industry groups talked about how they use the SSN as identifying people and their related accounts and information.  It is clear the SSN is used to match and identify different people with various amounts of information.  The SSN is tightly woven into use as a national, unique identifier for records matching and internal and external reports.  The government requires that the banking, insurance and credit industries report information utilizing  the SSN.  But, as one panelist said, “The SSN is out there. You can’t take it back.”  My conclusion is much the same.  Some businesses, institutions and government agencies need to retain use of the SSN as a unique identifier.  This simplifies matching matching information.  I am sure the IRS is not going to stop using SSNs as its taxpayer identification number.  Banks and other income generating businesses will probably be required to report income to the IRS and other government agencies using the SSN.

According to Consumers Union, there are three bills pending in Congress to limit the use, sales and purchase of SSNs.  See SSN BillSummary.  I do not believe the private investigation industry is concerned about whether the SSN continues to be used as an identifier or authenticator.  The industry is more concerned about the exceptions in the bills being considered restricting the industry’s access to SSNs for legitimate investigative purposes.  The bills provide exceptions to use, sale or purchase of SSNs to law enforcement, for purposes of national security, public health, complying with state or federal tax law and several other exceptions.  There is no exception for litigation matters, insurance investigations, fraud investigations, missing persons investigations or any other legitimate business investigation.  This means that private investigators could not properly identify persons who are subject to an investigation or identify witnesses needed in an investigation.

The Graham-Leach-Blilley Act and the Drivers Privacy Protection Act restrict certain personal and private information access, but both laws provide exceptions for litigation matters, fraud matters and other legitimate investigations.  The same exceptions should be provide for in any legislation restricting access to SSNs.  The Federal Trade Commission should consider recommending such exceptions in their report to the President’s Identity Theft Task Force.  Legitimate investigations, being litigation matters, fraud matters, criminal defense matters, missing persons matters or buisness matters, should be named as an exception to restricting access to SSNs.

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

Posted in attorneys, fraud, Investigations, law enforcement, lawyers, PIAVA, police, private detective, private investigations, private investigators, Research, Virginia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Real ID Act — Your Papers, Please

Posted by Bill on December 13, 2007

papers.jpg  You’ve seen it in the movies–a country ruled by a cruel dictator where everyone has to carry their identity papers with them and produce when the tough police demand them.

Well, Nicole Black of Sui Genris, a NY law Blog, wrote an interesting piece about the Real ID Act which I covered in a prior post.  The Act will require anyone living or working in the U.S. to have a federally approved ID card to open a bank account, travel on an airplane, collect social security benefits or any other government benefits. 

The real problem with the Real ID Act is that the Department of Homeland Security, DHS, requires minimal cyber security for the vast collection of almost all of a person’s private and personal information.  What a boon for ID thieves to have all the personal information in one place where it can harvested with a smile!

Read Niclole’s article on this.

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

Posted in attorneys, crime, fraud, Investigations, law enforcement, lawyers, PIAVA, police, private detective, private investigations, private investigators, Public Records, Research, Virginia | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

FTC SSN Workshop Now Available Webcast–Watch It!

Posted by Bill on December 11, 2007

You can see and listen to the entire SSN Workshop discussions via webcast FTC Webcast here.

I was not able to attend today’s session, but it was reported to me that some speakers were very outspoken against the private investigation industry.  Perhaps, these people never needed the assistance of an attorney or private investigator, but they may change their outlook when and if a situation arises and they need help.  For example, if a person is indicted or charged with a crime, they need an attorney to help them defend themselves, unless, of course, they are in their own right a super lawyer.  Facts are needed in defending a criminal case.  The prosecutor has the facts and has a legion of FBI or IRS agents, along with a grand jury, to gather more facts.  What does the defense attorney have to assist the client?  Sometimes it is a hired “private investigator.”  I have worked on criminal defense cases, and the gathering of facts is the primary objective of many cases.  Sometimes, as a private investigator, you find the one witness who will testify for the defendant and, possibly, contribute to a “not guilty” verdict.  To deny private investigators and/or attorneys access to information to prepare a criminal defense case is certainly open to an immediate constitutional challenge.  I believe it has somehthing to do with “due process” and “right to fair trials” etc.  Of course, these mere constitutional values may be overlooked in denying defense investigators and defense attorneys the right to access needed identifying information to find witnesses or challenge prosecution witnesses.

But, I digress.  I did not intend to write a summary of today’s FTC workshop.  I will do that tomorrow after watching the webcast.

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

Posted in attorneys, crime, FBI, fraud, Investigations, law enforcement, lawyers, PIAVA, police, private detective, private investigations, private investigators, Public Records, Virginia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

FTC Workshop Agenda

Posted by Bill on December 11, 2007

FTC Panel FTC panel–Robert Townsend, NALI

Meesis FTC Jimmie Meesis, PI Magazine, PI Mag, at FTC Workshop.

 For those interested, here is the detailed FTC Workshop Agenda with panel members listed. FTC Agenda To view the agenda, click on the highlighted link and click second time on the “FTC Agenda” link on next page.

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

Posted in attorneys, fraud, Investigations, lawyers, PIAVA, private detective, private investigations, private investigators, Public Records, Research, Virginia | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

FTC Workshop Realtime

Posted by Bill on December 10, 2007

I am blogging from the FTC Conference Center in Washington, DC.  There are about 90 to 100 people attending.  There are still seats available.  So, if you are in  the area, come on down! I came in late, but here is some of the discussion:

SSN Display & Use as Internal Identifier 

Now a representative from Ernst & Young is explaining how companies or businesses can successfully remove SSNs from business records.  E&Y has a consulting service to assist businesses with this process.  They are emphasizing that companies establish a standard policy and train employees  about how to handle data.  In addition, SSNs should be removed from all documents.  Access to information should be limited to only those “with need to know.”  The major systems that need attention are time keeping, payroll systems, salary data and human resources.

E&Y discussed the ways SSNs are used by businesses to keep their records–employee identifier and database tracking.  Once reports are generated, however, hard copies or data files may spread beyond the original source.  Security must control access to the data containing SSN identifiers.

There is a discussion of what other unique identifiers can be used to identify a person.  Such things as place of birth, additional PIN number, mother’s maiden name etc.  Companies are adopting these measures, but it takes time. 

Lunch Break at 12:30 p.m.

I saw some well known PI people here today.  Jimmie Meesis, PI Magazine, PI Magazine,  Bruce Hulme, NCISS, NCISS, Larry Sabbeth, NCISS, Pat Clawson, famous MI PI and PIAVA member Nicole Bocra.  After lunch, the topic is “SSN Use to LInk Data Externally.”  The panel is Robert Ryan, VP, TransUnion, Stan Szwalbenest, JP Morgan Case Comsumer and Retail Franchise, Roberta Meyer, VP and Associate General Counsel, America Council of Life Insurances, Robert Townsend, National Association of Legal Investigators, Michael Lamb, VP and General Counsel, LexisNexis Risk & Informaion Analytics Group, and Annie Anton, Associate Professor of Software Engineering, NC State University.  Robert Townsend is a private investigator from Orange County, CA.

So long for now,

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

Posted in attorneys, fraud, Investigations, lawyers, PIAVA, private detective, private investigations, private investigators, Public Records, Research, Virginia | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Hey, What About SSNs? FTC SSN Workshop-December 10, 11, 2007

Posted by Bill on December 1, 2007

Is your Social Security Number (SSN) important to you?  The U.S. Government ID number was originally issued only for designating your social security benefits account.  In fact, the original law and regulations, 1936,  declared that the SSN was for the exclusive use of the Social Security system.  Well, now, that seems to have been expanded.  Every business, credit application, medical office, credit card companies, bank and, of course, the IRS want and need your SSN.  They cannot live without it.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is considering what to do about SSNs use by everyone in the world, and how to limit dissemination and, hopefully, misuse of the SSN for identity theft and more illegal use.  Information about the FTC workshop on this issue is below.  But,

For everything you want to know about your SSN, go to the Electronic Privacy Information Center’s (EPIC) website SSN Privacy Page at EPIC SSN page.

Yesterday, the FTC, Division of Privacy and Identity Protection,  issued a summary of information it has obtained in preparation for an upcoming FTC workshop on private-sector use of Social Security numbers (SSNs).  See report FTC SSN Report.

On December 10 and 11, 2007, the FTC will host a public workshop, “Security in Numbers: SSNs and ID Theft,”to explore the uses of Social Security numbers in the private sector and the role of SSNs in identity theft, see Workshop.  The FTC is exploring ways to reduce unnecessary uses of the SSN.  The workshop will provide a forum for public-sector, private-sector, and consumer representatives to discuss the various uses of SSNs by the private sector, the necessity of those uses, alternatives available, the challenges faced by the private sector in moving away from using SSNs, and how SSNs are obtained and used by identity thieves.  The workshop will be free and open to the public.

This workshop is free and open to the public, but space will be limited.  Pre-registration is not necessary to attend but is encouraged so that we may better plan this event.  Those pre-registering should send their name and affiliation to  Pre-registration will not guarantee a seat at the event; seating will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.  The FTC will use pre-registration information to estimate how many people will attend and better understand the likely audience for the workshop. 

The workshop will be at FTC Conference Center, 601 New Jersey Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20001.

Go to the below links for all the information you want or need about the FTC and your SSN.

Workshop Information 

FTC SSN Report 

Draft Agenda

If you want to know what is going to happen about your SSN and how it will be used in the future, and how you want it to be used by “everyone in the world” attend this workshop.  Let the FTC know the importance of your SSN.

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

Posted in Investigations, PIAVA, private investigations, private investigators, Public Records | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »