Walt Disney employees aren’t wishing on a star these days—they’re wishing their employee I.D. cards didn’t have their Social Security numbers embedded in them. With staffers at risk for identity theft, Disney’s CEO says they will send the problem—and the cards—off to never-never land.
The affected employee I.D. cards, which include Disney president Bob Iger’s card, include bar codes that can be read by smart phones and other mobile technology devices. Certain phones like the iPhone and the Android offer special applications that can scan the bar codes and break down the codes and reveal personal employee data.
Disney employees are so ticked off by the bar code gaffe (the cards were created well before the smart phone technology that exposed these cards were available) that they’re now filing a class action suit in California. The lawsuit contends that employees have complained to Disney management about the cards, and the employees’ vulnerability to identity theft, for three years. But management has yet to rectify the situation.
The lawsuit also claims that posting Social Security numbers on employee I.D. cards is against the law in California. Disney is trying to take a diplomatic stance on the case, not admitting to any fault but stating that the company will issue new cards—sans Social Security data—just the same.
“We disagree with the legal premise of the lawsuit,” said Suzi Brown, in a statement to the Orange County Register. “Protecting cast members’ (employees) personal information is a responsibility we take very seriously. ”
CEO Iger says that the problem is being addressed. He told an audience of shareholders in Salt Lake City recently that employee card changes are a big priority. “We are addressing this issue. This issue will be completely fixed. We’re trying to do it as quickly as possible,” Iger told the group.
[Resource: 12 Tips for Protecting Your Identity]
But one Disney employee spokesperson says that Disney’s response is too little, too late. “It’s obvious they don’t see it as a serious issue,” Jorge Iniestra, a bellman at the Disneyland Hotel, and a lead plaintiff, told the Orange County Register.
The lawsuit might come down to what a judge considers to be an actual Social Security number. Clearly, the California state code says that employees can’t print Social Security numbers on employee cards. But the Disney cards have Social Security numbers that are encoded, and that could be a legal sticking point.
So far, no clear reports of identity theft have been reported from Disney employees—at least not related to their cards. But staffers aren’t taking any chances—they want their cards protected now, before any cyber-pirates take their personal data—and potentially their bank account—to the Caribbean.
Image by Stuck in Customs, via Flickr