The town has received inquiries about the recording of Social Security numbers on town records received by the Town Clerk. For many years, going back to the 1960’s, many documents filed with the town clerk had people’s Social Security numbers on them. These records are, by law, available to anyone. Again, by law, these records cannot be altered in any way. They must remain exactly as filed.
For approximately 20 years, we, along with every other town, have been automating our records systems and scanning them into our system. All of these records are available to anyone who wants to come into our offices and review them. People can only review these one record at a time.
We have upgraded our systems to allow the review of these records on line. For a daily or monthly fee, users can access records one at a time; in exactly the same manner they access them now when they come into our offices.
We have decided to have more conversations on this subject to understand everyone’s concerns. To that end, we will be having a meeting of the Board of Selectmen to review this issue. While we believe that there is no additional risk to our residents by allowing on line access versus coming into the office, we will be closing on line access until the Board has had a chance to review in greater detail.
We believe that the best way to eliminate this problem is to have the State legislature change the laws to allow Social Security numbers to be removed from the original documents filed so that we could, over time, eliminate these numbers from public view. While it is possible to redact these numbers from documents on our systems, it would be a manual process, very expensive and would not fix the problem as Social Security numbers would still be available on the original document filed with the Town Clerk’s office.