How much information is too much information?

(WSVN) - You are always told to keep your private information private, so how would you feel if your association said they needed your driver’s license — including your date of birth — for you to get a parking permit? Can they make you hand it over? It’s why a resident called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

Just spend 10 seconds with Anna Watson and you’ll realize she is fun to be around.

Anna Watson, keep private info private: “I try to stay happy no matter what is going on in my life. I try to stay happy. Life is too short to be miserable.”

But if you wanna wipe the smile off her face, go outside and start talking about her homeowner’s association.

Anna Watson: “Kind of made me a little upset.”

It starts when you pull into Country Lake Sorbet — or better yet, the land of lots of signs.

Anna Watson: “Play music. Don’t play music. Park here. Don’t park there.”

They have a lot of rules here.

Residents are given a brochure that lists 12 things you cannot do, and recently, something you must do: get a decal to park in your own driveway.

Anna Watson: “Why do we have to have a decal put in our car just to be in front of our house?”

To get the parking decal, the property manager and association needed information — a lot of information.

Anna Watson: “They want me to send them copies of all of our driver’s license and registration.”

Your registration has your VIN number. No big deal.

But your driver’s license has your name, address, license number and your date of birth.

Anna Watson: “That private, I believe, is too private when they ask for my driver’s license. What are they going to do with this information?”

Anna says if you watch the news, you know what happens when people turn over their confidential information to a business: crooks steal it.

Anna Watson: “It get into the wrong hands, and I’m done.”

Anna would be happy to give the association the make and model of her car but not her private information.

Anna Watson: “I just told her, ‘I think that is very personal, and I will get back with you.’ I decided to call Help Me Howard.”

Well Howard, can an association and management company demand your private information?

Howard Finkelstein, 7 News Legal Expert: “This surprises me, but yes, they can demand it because there is no law to stop them. The Florida legislature lets an association enact any rule they want so long as it’s reasonable, and in the eyes of the law, it’s reasonable for an association and their management company to have a copy of your confidential information. Do they need it? No, but they can demand it.”

I spoke to the president of Country Lakes Association.

Francis Espinal said since many residents wanted to mail in their application for a permit, the manager needed the picture and address from the license to confirm the person applying lives at that address.

But she said residents have another option.

They can go to the property management company or to a board meeting with their application, just show their driver’s license and they can get the permit without having to turn over a copy of the license.

Also, she said if they don’t show a license, they cannot get a permit, but their cars will not be towed from their driveway.

Finally, associations and management companies need to be aware of the risk they are taking when they require residents’ confidential information.

Howard Finkelstein: “This is why associations need to be careful. If you force a resident to turn over that information, and it’s stolen, the association and management company can be on the hook for the money taken by the crooks using their residents’ confidential information.”

Anna has her smile back and is happy that she doesn’t have to give the association a copy of her license — just show it to them after she got in touch with us.

Anna Watson: “John the camera man and Patrick Fraser — they are great. I love them. I had such an enjoyable time talking and working with these guys.”

Turning over you date of birth, things like that, can be risky, of course.

A lot of places ask for it on an application or other form. Don’t give it to them. It’s none of their business.

Seeing the signs you need help in a battle? Ready to go public with a private fight? It’s free if you permit us to help ’cause we don’t need a license to solve your problem — just a heart.

CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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