HIPAA, which was enacted in 1996, protects your medical history and medical records from prying eyes. There are federal and state laws against obtaining medical records without authorization.
Individual credit reports are protected by the Fair Credit Report Act (“FCRA”), Driver’s Privacy Protection Act (“DPPA”) and Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (“GLBA”). Private investigators can obtain credit reports, but a signed authorization or waiver from the subject of the inquiry must be obtained to get a credit report.
The Right to Financial Privacy Act prohibits financial institutions from disclosing bank records or account information about individual customers to governmental agencies without 1) the customer’s consent, 2) a court order, 3) a subpoena, 4) a search warrant, or 5) other formal demand, with limited exceptions.
Telephone Records / Cell Phone Records
In January 2007, President Bush signed the Telephone Records and Privacy Protection Act of 2006, which makes it a felony to fraudulently acquire telephone records. If you are the owner of the phone, it’s a different story, but you cannot access someone else’s phone records without permission.
Obtaining travel records for someone other than yourself can be done through the U.S. Department of State, provided that you have a notarized consent, court order or other legitimate document, but there is no way to publicly or legally obtain these records without permission.
Each state government has its own set of rules about obtaining birth certificates, but in general, birth certificates can only be obtained by the person named on the certificate, immediate family members or next of kin. In many states, records more than 100 years old are part of the public domain.
About the Author
Brian Willingham, CFE is a New York Private Investigator and President of Diligentia Group.