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Thanks to Tracy Phillips and David Rickard, a new law will help North Carolina’s veterans avoid “identity theft” crimes by tightening up access to important documents.
Tracy was a paralegal student in Davidson County, NC when she discovered, much to her surprise, that old military discharge records were available for anyone to see at the county Register of Deeds office. “The first thing that clicked off in my mind was, ‘Whoah, we have Social Security numbers on these papers.’,” she said. As the daughter of a Navy veteran herself, Phillips knew what could happen if that information fell into the wrong hands. “If they can get their hands on your social security number, they really have you and can get ahold of information that you do not want to make public.”
Social Security Numbers and other vital information appear on a soldier’s DD-214 (“Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty”).
Tracy, who was studying at the Davidson County Register of Deeds office at the time, voiced her concerns to David Rickard, the Register of Deeds for Davidson County. He brought the issue to his representatives in the General Assembly.
Until now, discharge papers were automatically made public after no more than just 50 years. The new law keeps these documents private for 80 years to help ensure that soldiers don’t become the victims of identity theft.
The General Assembly passed the legislation unanimously and it was signed into law by Governor McCrory earlier this year. Thanks to Tracy Phillips and David Rickard.
Veterans are encouraged to have their DD-24s recorded with their county register of deeds office for safekeeping. If the original is ever lost, damaged or destroyed, certified copies can always be retrieved to serve as originals. Special thanks to charlotte.news14.com for the great video.