Identity Theft Protection Expert and One You Security: Research and News Reports Suggest that Government Often Mishandles Social Security Numbers
(SARASOTA, Fla. – Aug. 14, 2008 – One You Security) An investigation slated for the September issue of Consumer Reports and announced in early August has suggested that government leaks of information resulted in the loss or exposure of about 44 million consumer records from 2005 to mid-2008. The government’s apparent negligence, evidenced by recent spot examples reported in the news, was worrisome but unsurprising, said Robert Siciliano, widely televised and quoted identity theft protection expert and chief security analyst for One You Security, LLC. He stressed that Social Security numbers are already exposed to the public, and pointed to One You’s service, which works to render the numbers useless to the thieves who can easily obtain them anyway.
“At the government level, leaks of identifying information useful to thieves occur on a grand scale,” said Siciliano. “This is largely because municipal governments continually fail to update their antiquated processes, which results in officials posting Social Security numbers and more online, for all to see. Most consumers recognize that this is incredibly negligent behavior. But they must also accept the fact that it nevertheless happens, and that privacy is not the answer. Why? Privacy is no longer possible. Consumers must now manage their unfortunate circumstances by turning to services that transform their no-longer-private information into something of no use to the thieves who are going to obtain it anyway.”
Subscribers to One You Security receive newsletters and special alerts from Siciliano. Through these, they get the latest information on data breaches and learn more about identity theft prevention. Chief security analyst for One You Security and a member of the Bank Fraud & IT Security Report‘s editorial board, Siciliano regularly discusses data security and consumer protection on CNBC, on NBC’s “Today Show,” FOX News Network and elsewhere.
On Aug. 6, several news reports across the United States surfaced to suggest that Social Security numbers, as well as other identifying consumer information, are subject to questionable handling and practices when in the hands of municipal governments:
- In Wayne County, Mich., many residents’ “Social Security numbers, salaries, birth dates and other important identifier information have been on the Web since 2000,” reported Detroit’s Daily Free Press.
- The Associated Press reported that recipients of traffic citations in Virginia and the District of Columbia “could find their Social Security numbers posted on a state Web site if that information is on their driver’s license.” The online documents display full name, address, gender, height, weight and birth date of the drivers and, if their driver’s licenses have the information, their Social Security numbers, too.
- In New York State, TheDemocrat and Chronicle reported that the Social Security numbers “of hundreds of Monroe County residents who filed for bankruptcy several years ago are available for viewing on the County Clerk’s Web site.” According to the article, the posting online of U.S. Bankruptcy Court documents, which display the information, was regular practice earlier in the decade.
These and other reports were in fact “par for the course,” according to Siciliano, who was unsurprised by Consumer Reports data on the matter announced two days earlier. The publication analyzed records of publicly reported data breaches compiled by the nonprofit Privacy Rights Clearinghouse and found more than 230 security lapses by federal, state, and local government from 2005 through mid-June 2008 resulting in the loss or exposure of at least 44 million consumer records containing Social Security or driver’s license numbers and other personal data, according to the press announcement.
“These numbers are staggering,” said Chris Harris, president and CEO of One You Security. “Consumers put a lot of trust in institutions such as government and business, and it must be tough for them to fathom the circumstances. For consumers to try to keep their Social Security numbers private is an admirable but lost cause. Every one of these Social Security numbers is there for the thief’s taking. The only solution is to transform those digits, already exposed to the public, into something of no use to criminals who would otherwise use the information to commit financial fraud.”
Consumers who choose One You Security do so in part because the company strives to transform their Social Security numbers into meaningless strings of digits of no use to thieves. The firm backs all its offerings with a 100 percent service guarantee.
The YouTube video below shows Siciliano on FOX News Network, where he explains how the ubiquity of Social Security numbers as universal identifiers helps thieves online and off-line. A collection of videos at VideoJug features Siciliano sharing advice on how consumers can protect themselves from identity theft and fraud.
About One You Security, LLC
Sarasota, Fla.-based One You Security‘s mission is to eliminate the threat and consequences of identity theft. For just $10 per month, anyone can sign up for One You Security’s identity theft protection service, a proactive, preventative approach whereby the company activates and manages its customers’ fraud alerts with major credit bureaus. Subscribers also receive full access to ongoing education from identity theft protection expert Robert Siciliano, chief security analyst for One You Security, which backs up its promise to protect clients’ financial identities with a 100 percent service guarantee. To sign up for One You Security, dial 1-800-434-2010.
Identity theft affects us all, and Robert Siciliano, CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com, chief security analyst for One You Security, and member of the Bank Fraud & IT Security Report‘s editorial board, makes it his mission to provide consumer education solutions on identity theft to Fortune 500 companies and their clients. Author of “The Safety Minute: 01” and leader of personal safety and security seminars nationwide, Siciliano has been featured on “The Today Show,” CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, “FOX News,” “The Suze Orman Show,” “The Montel Williams Show,” “Maury Povich,” “Sally Jesse Raphael,” “The Howard Stern Show,” and “Inside Edition.” Numerous magazines, print news outlets, and wire services have turned to him, as well, for expert commentary on personal security and identity theft protection. These include Forbes, USA Today, Entrepreneur, Woman’s Day, Mademoiselle, Good Housekeeping, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Times, The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, United Press International, Reuters, and others. For more information, visit Siciliano’s Web site, blog, and YouTube page.
The media are encouraged to get in touch with any of the following individuals:
President & CEO of One You Security
PHONE: 941-342-0500 (x231)
CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com
Chief Security Analyst for One You Security
PHONE: 888-SICILIANO (742-4542)
FAX: 877-2-FAX-NOW (232-9669)
Brent W. Skinner
President & CEO of STETrevisions