UNCLAIMED PERSONS MEMBER AGREEMENT
1) Members of Unclaimed Persons may never, for any reason, contact the decedent’s next of kin or other persons who may have a potential relationship with or know of the deceased. This includes but is not limited to:
- Relatives of any degree
- Owners of family trees
Contacting relatives or associates of the decedent is the coroner’s and medical examiner’s responsibility. It is what they are trained to do and it is part of our agreement with these counties. This rule is in place for legal reasons and out of respect for the families we are assisting.
2) Members of Unclaimed Persons may never, for any reason, use any information from a case to pass on to third party organizations or post elsewhere on the Internet, including data from the coroner, members’ research or information discovered during the case. Sites include but are not limited to:
- Message boards
- Queries sites
- Guest books
- Family trees (including Private Member Trees on sites such as Ancestry.com and Geni.com, or add to a public tree at FamilySearch.org)
- Sites that compile information
- Genealogical sites
- Heir finder companies
- Forensic genealogy research
- Probate research groups
- Any Next-Of-Kin research
- Any other public communication site
In the enthusiasm of researching a case and hoping to find leads to NOK, it’s tempting to nudge the process. But at Unclaimed Persons we are adamant that no information from the Case Files forum is posted anywhere off the forum. The consequences of NOK finding these postings (and it HAS happened), lead to unintended repercussions.
3) Members of Unclaimed Persons must use only resources that are publicly available on the Internet and may never order from, contact nor use the following types of resources without explicit permission from the case administrator and/or UP directors. Types of resources that require permission include but are not limited to:
- Vital records offices
- Court houses
- Veterans associations
- Social Security Administration
- Historical & genealogical societies
- Funeral homes
- Social, military, fraternal, religious organizations or associations
- Genealogical researchers who are not Unclaimed Persons members
- When in doubt, ask!
Examples of resources that are allowed:
- Online death record from FamilySearch
- Online court record from Hillsborough County Florida Web Public Search
- Online cemetery record from Find A Grave
Examples of resources that are NOT allowed without explicit permission:
- SS-5 from Social Security Administration
- Death record from vital records office
- Library access to physical media such as directories or newspapers
Examples of data that should NOT be posted without explicit permission:
- Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, bank account numbers, passwords or similar data from sources that are not freely available online or not available from commonly used genealogical sources, such as Ancestry.com, GenealogyBank.com or FamilySearch.org. When in doubt, ask the case admin!
It is very important that the case administrators know what is happening on each case at all times in order to:
- guide the direction of the case
- know what information is being requested
- prevent duplication of effort
- be sure any requests meet Unclaimed Persons guidelines
These rules are in place to protect the coroners, the decedent’s families, the individual researcher and Unclaimed Persons, both legally and ethically. The information discovered during these cases is often personal, sensitive and/or private. If something is unclear or you have information concerning a case that requires action, please contact the case administrator or one of the directors.
We know that you will want to assist us in keeping our commitment to the coroners, so please remember that WHAT HAPPENS ON THE FORUM STAYS ON THE FORUM. Period.
You are an important part of our research team and a welcome voice on the case topics. Thank you for being a part of the solution to bringing these people home!If you have any questions, please feel free to ask!
Janis Martin, Arwen Newman, Vreneli Doyle – Directors, Unclaimed Persons