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City Steps Up As Personal Records Are Compromised

MASSACHUSETTS — Police in Lawrence are trying to figure out why two former Public School Department employees used city computers to run questionable background checks on Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, boxer Evander Holyfield, and actors Michael Chiklis, Hugh Laurie and Sela Ward. They are among the estimated 400 people who had their personal information accessed under the guise of the background checks.

While no criminal charges have been filed, Lawrence Mayor Michael Sullivan says the city will pay for credit reports for the potential victims, who also include Governor Deval Patrick and state Representative Barry Finegold.

The case underscores the nationwide quest to make consumers’ information more secure. While Notaries cannot stop people who have been granted legitimate access to databases containing sensitive information, many industries and government agencies are now utilizing Notaries to help issue digital identity credentials, which are used to control access to databases.

The illicit background checks were made via school computers between December 2007 and March 2009. While some may have been legitimate, many appear to be unauthorized. The city has disconnected its background check software. One of the former employees worked as a special assistant to school Superintendent Wilfredo Laboy; the other was a private investigator who served as a safety consultant.

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