Identity Theft

Recent Govt. Data Breaches Pose Privacy Risk

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The Social Security Administration continued making public the full names and Social Security numbers of tens of thousands of people three years after it first learned it was putting citizens’ privacy at risk, according to a new report by the agency’s inspector general.

The information, which also included the ZIP codes and dates of birth of 63, 587 living people, was erroneously included in the agency’s Death Master File (DMF).

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Nevertheless, the agency continued selling the file to the public.

The agency “continued to publish the DMF with the knowledge its contents included the PII of living numberholders,” the report found.

The inspector general recommended that the SSA take additional precautions to limit such privacy breaches in the future, but “the agency disagreed with both recommendations,” according to the office’s report.

The report does not mention what those recommendations were because the version made available to the public was merely a summary. The full version was given to authorized officials only.

Also this month, children in Oklahoma with birth defects, and their parents, discovered that sensitive personal details including medical information had fallen into unauthorized hands when a laptop and 50 pages of documents were stolen from the car of an employee at the Oklahoma Department of Health, according to the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. The computer and documents contained the names of parents and children from the state Birth Defects Registry, their Social Security numbers, addresses, birth dates—information that could be used to commit identity-related fraud—as well as  medical records and medical test results.

People who believe they may have been affected should call 1-888-278-7134 or email contactosdh@health.ok.gov for more information.

Image: DonkeyHotey, via Flickr

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