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Can domestic violence survivors and others get extra confidentiality protections?

Alert

DTA made a number of changes and suspended a number of rules during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Guide notes in red when a rule was suspended during the pandemic.

Produced by Deborah Harris, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed March 9 2022

You can ask DTA for an online services “block.” This will prevent anyone including you from having access to your DTA Connect or automated information on the DTA Assistance Line. See DTA Online Guide (Heightened Level of Security Impact).

For more protection (and more inconvenience), you can ask DTA for a Heightened Level of Security indicator because of domestic violence or any other reason, such as fear of gang violence. DTA Operations Memo 2010-50 (Nov. 1, 2010); DTA Online Guide (Heightened Level of Security Indicator). This will flag your case so that

  • DTA will not discuss your case with you on the phone.
  • You will have to conduct all business by going in person to DTA.
  • You will not be able to talk to a Domestic Violence Specialist or the Ombuds Office by phone.
  • You will not be able to view your information on DTA Connect.
  • DTA will be able to discuss your case with your lawyer or advocate only if you put the name of your lawyer or advocate on the form requesting the Heightened Level of Security.

Advocacy Reminders

  • DTA modified the Heightened Level of Security restrictions during the pandemic because DTA offices are not fully open. During the pandemic, you can contact the DTA Ombuds for help at 617-348-5354 or call a Domestic Violence Specialist.
  • The Heightened Level of Security restrictions can sometimes be dangerous or very inconvenient because you have to go to the DTA office to conduct your business with DTA. Think carefully about your own situation before asking for the special protection.
  • You can cancel the special protection at any time by signing a form saying you no longer want it.
  • You can ask the Domestic Violence Specialist in the DTA office for different arrangements that will work better for you. For example, you can ask to have your case handled in a different office where you will be safer. You can ask for a password so that DTA will talk to you on the phone but will not talk to anyone who does not have the password. You can request that DTA use a number instead of your SSN. See Do you have to have a Social Security number?
  • Domestic Violence Specialists are available to help domestic violence survivors request waivers from DTA rules, see What if you are a domestic violence survivor? and Can you get a waiver or good cause exception to welfare rules because of domestic violence? to help you make a safety plan.
  • Massachusetts also has an Address Confidentiality Program to give you a substitute mailing address if you do not want to give DTA your real address. The program will retrieve your mail from the substitute address and forward it to your actual address. To qualify for the program you need to show that disclosure of your address would threaten you or your children’s safety and that the abuser does not know your address. See Address Confidentiality Program (ACP); DTA Online Guide (Address (RFA)).

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