County officials work to keep information secure

County officials work to keep information secure Identity theft has become a major concern for many people across the nation and the state of South Dakota. At the 2002 South Dakota American Legion State Convention in Rapid City, veterans voted to support legislation to protect military discharge papers that are filed with county register of deeds.

"This resolution came about because of reports in many states of incidents of identity theft that had occurred from information obtained from military records held by the register of deeds," said South Dakota American Legion Commander Walter, "Walt" Lindemann. "Fortunately, no such reports of identity theft have been reported from information obtained from any South Dakota register of deeds office, but we need to be proactive on this one."

"South Dakota's registers of deeds became aware of these types of situations late last year," said Association of County Officials Director Rich Sattgast. "As an 18-year military veteran, a member of the VFW and the American Legion, I certainly understand everyone's concern. Personal information of this nature should remain personal, and that is why the registers of deeds and our association are working within the law to keep these documents secure."

Sattgast said there's general agreement among the registers of deeds and all county officials that they must take great care with this type of information to insure that it is not used for profit or mayhem. Many of the documents held in county offices contain information of a personal nature, and over the years Sattgast has worked with the Legislature and local officials to change the laws to keep this information out of the hands of those who would use it for illegitimate purposes.

"Our association has worked to change the laws in many areas," said Sattgast, "including vital records such as birth and death records, motor vehicle information under the Drivers Privacy Protection Act (DPPA), and most recently with medical information through the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

"It is scary," continued Sattgast, "to think that what was once the norm of recording your DD 214 wherever you reside could result in identity theft because of Open Records Laws."

In a meeting over the weekend between Sattgast and Lindemann, the two discussed how their organizations will work together to protect South Dakota's veterans and the information they've filed with the register of deeds.

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