Florida Sunshine Law Could Lead to Data Breaching

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BAY COUNTY Identity theft is still the fastest growing crime in America.

Experts say most cases are the result of people failing take proper precautions to protect their private information.

But Florida's Sunshine Law could also be contributing to the problem.

Identity theft is big business for thieves and very costly to victims.

Just last year, identity theft cases costs Americans $21 billion.

Florida has the third highest identity theft rate in the country, behind California and Arizona

Attorney Waylon Graham says, "Hundreds, hundreds, hundreds. That's just me, but there's hundreds of thousands, maybe millions that go on all the time. This is a very, very big problem."

The sunshine law could be one of the reasons for that..

Passed in 1990, the Sunshine Law requires all public record documents to be available to the general public.

While the Sunshine Law offers significant benefits, like weeding out potential government corruption, there are also serious downsides.

Incident reports from police departments make personal information like names, birthdays, and in some cases, social security numbers, accessible to anyone.

Another item that is publically accessible that puts your safety at risk: Building layouts from the property appraisers office reveal details of your home.

All a potential criminal needs now is a window of opportunity, and what better way for them to know you're not home than to check your social media post.

So how do you protect yourself and your family?

By being smart.

Don't give out personal information to strangers, beware of sites like Craigslist, Ebay, and Paypal.

Bay County Criminal Investigator Paul Vecker adds, "The debit cards. We tell people with debit cards not to ever use them at service stations, not to ever use them at fast foods going through the drive through window, because a debit card is like cash in a way."

Officials say once you give out your personal information, it's nearly impossible to protect yourself.

The safest way to handle sensitive information is to simply keep it to yourself.

Experts stress you enable privacy tools on your social media sites and resist geotagging, or posting your location with timestamps.