WEST BEND (WITI) -- Websites using your problems for profit! Court records are popping up all over the internet, and if you want the record wiped out - you'll have to pay.
Lynn Ducharme found an old record of hers online and wasn't happy about it.
"I just feel this is very unethical," she said while looking at it on the screen.
Lynn had a job interview coming up and did what many of us might do - she did a simple internet search on herself. She found her name is on a link to a website called Court-Records-Management.com. It shows an old charge for disorderly conduct - which was dismissed. It was a one-time mistake Lynn regrets, and now fears will influence future employment opportunities.
"There's just been some issues in my personal life that I just wanted to make sure that there wasn't anything strange or weird out there, and I came upon this," Lynn said.
The entry is public record in Wisconsin, but you'd have to go to the Wisconsin Circuit Court Access website - called CCAP - to find it.
But Court-Records-Management.com is a privately owned website that simply reproduces those public records and puts them out there for the world to see.
And if you want a record removed, you'd better be ready to pay up!
"When I was on the site a couple months ago it was $79.99. Now they jacked it up to $149.99," Lynn said.
The site wants almost $150 to remove the record from its site. And guess what? It's legal!
"Putting people's mug shots and people's circuit court records up for public consumption merely to solicit funds to remove it has become a big problem," says attorney Jonathan LaVoy.
The issue is very real for some of LaVoy's clients, who make one-time mistakes - like Lynn - but can't live it down because of websites like these.
"I think it's wrong. I think it's unethical and I think it is a big issue, and Wisconsin needs to act on it," LaVoy said.
LaVoy says there are laws in other states against these kinds of websites, but Wisconsin is not one of them - at least, not yet.
"You can create a law that prohibits people from taking money to remove it, and if they violate that law, they'd be subject to either civil or criminal penalties," LaVoy said.
Until a Wisconsin lawmaker steps up and makes it happen, people like Lynn will continue fighting a past they're no longer part of.
"I sent them an email. I asked them to please remove the record and they refused to do it. That's when I called Contact 6 to see if maybe you guys can find out something about this place," Lynn said.
Contact 6 sent the website several emails and received an emailed statement in response. In it, we are told their policy is generally not to speak with the media. But a representative says Lynn's records have now been permanently removed from the site - at no charge!
Even though it doesn't say so on the website, the statement goes on to say that its policy is also to remove "non-traffic ordinance violations" as long as there was a dismissal.
Your policy should be this - be honest and upfront with employers about things that might have happened in your past that you're not proud of. Better they hear it from you than find it on their own.