Leaked Social Security Numbers Put Personal Security at Risk

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Robert Siciliano

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Allen West, a Republican Congressional candidate, is speaking out after a mailing from the Florida Democratic Party releases his Social Security number and his wife’s federal employee number.

“It’s an attack against me and I think it shows the weakness of the character of Ron Klein and definitely the Florida Democratic party, to put a person’s personal security and safety at risk,” said West, “And also affects my family as well.”

The Florida Democratic Party responded by stating, “We apologize for the oversight of not redacting this information from the public record included in the mailer,” and by offering West two years of identity theft monitoring, but West says he will not accept their money.

Meanwhile, in Virginia, a judge has ruled it is legal to post Social Security numbers on websites.

Every city, state, and town has its own set of regulations determining the collection and management of public records, including birth, death, marriage, court, property, and business filings. Many of these documents include Social Security numbers. And many are posted on the Internet.

The Privacy Act of 1974 is a federal law that establishes a code of fair information practices governing the collection, maintenance, use, and dissemination of personally identifiable information in federal record systems.

Back in 1974, identity theft wasn’t an issue, so having your Social Security number on your driver’s license, school ID, and most other documents wasn’t a big deal. Then someone figured out how to use a Social Security number to pose as someone else, and from there, identity theft became big business.

When a judge rules that it’s okay to post Social Security numbers online, and a politician states that a similar act “puts a person’s personal security and safety at risk,” it’s clear that we have a systemic problem, one which the government is unlikely to solve.

It is important to observe basic security precautions to protect your identity. But you have no control over the security of your personal information when it is stored in government and corporate databases.

Consumers should consider an identity theft protection product that offers daily credit monitoring, proactive identity surveillance, lost wallet protection, and alerts when suspicious activity is detected on your accounts. 

McAfee Identity Protection includes all these features as well as live help from fraud resolution agents if your identity is ever compromised. For more tips on protecting yourself, please visithttp://www.counteridentitytheft.com.

Robert Siciliano is a McAfee consultant and identity theft expert. See him discuss Social Security numbers as national IDs on Fox News. (Disclosures)

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