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Historically, VA, FFSC, RAO's, and other military affiliated groups,  have always encouraged separating and retiring personnel to file their DD 214's with their county courthouse so that they would always have access to a legitimate copy in case their original is ever lost.  We have  always  encouraged personnel in TAP class to do this; however, here's a reason  we  might want to re-think it.
 I had a retired Master Chief (Bud Racquer) come by my office this  morning with a scary story.  His identification was stolen the beginning of September.  He received a call from a lady at American Express because someone had established credit with them (in his name) and was trying to cash a $9,000 check in his name in early September, made out to a Muslim/Arabic-sounding name.  The lady flagged the check because apparently she had a different address on file for Bud Racquer than what  showed on the check.  When she called him, he of course reported it.
 Last night, Bud Racquer received a call from an investigator telling  him that they finally tracked down the fellow who stole his  identification.  The guy is a lawyer and had a lap-top computer with  several thousand MILITARY names, SSN's and other information.  Each  military person was a separatee or retiree and their common link was  that  they had their DD 214's filed with a county clerk.  Bud Racquer was told  that this lawyer had accessed the DD 214 information through the public  court computer system.
 I called our Camden County courthouse this morning and asked about  their procedures for DD 214's.  The clerk there told me that although DD 214's were not put on their computers, they were public record.  In  fact,  with the exception of adoption papers, anything filed through the  courthouse was public record.   A check with the county clerk in Brunswick revealed the same information.  In fact, when asked directly if someone  could obtain a certified copy of a DD 214, the answer was "yes."  The clerk did say that they would verify the SSN (which of course you could look up on the public record first!).
 This is really scary stuff, and it gets scarier.  I called PSD here and asked them what a retiree would need to replace a lost I.D. card and  asked specifically if a certified court-copy of a DD 214 would suffice.  I was informed that they usually ask to see a picture i.d. but would  probably issue the i.d. card without it, so long as the member had a certified copy of his DD 214!  I told the I.D. card section leader this  story and warned him to be careful.  This was Bud's Racquer's main concern that it appears that it would be easy for others to steal your identity and get a valid I.D. card to get access to military bases.
 I notified the RAO, Bob Hurley, the VA Representative, Sandra Charles, and the TAMP Manager, Debbie Lucas.  Bob called Dennis Mills, the Retired Activities Program Director at BUPERs and gave him a heads-up on the situation.  Sandra is notifying her superiors at the VA.  Debbie has brought the matter to the attention of the TAMP Program Manager in PERS.
 Please help warn folks.  Unfortunately, the down side to not filing  the DD 214 with the county court is the hassle it can take to replace a  lost DD 214.  It can take months to get one replaced, if at all.  The bottom line is safeguarding this important document.  Have folks make copies and keep the original in a SAFE place (kid/animal/fire proof, etc...).

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