Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert
Government officials are posting our Social Security numbers on the web, but corporations are required to keep them under lock and key.
Congressman Robert Wexler was recently targeted by a Ghanaian extortionist who supposedly obtained Wexler’s Social Security number, as well as his wife’s, from a public record posted at The Virginia Watchdog. Betty Ostergren, founder of The Virginia Watchdog, has spent the past seven years trying to put an end to the public exposure of our Social Security numbers, which are often posted online by elected or appointed state government officials. Virginia and other states apparently want this personal information online, since they have yet to pass any laws mandating the removal of Social Security numbers.
State officials posts these records online because they are public records. This is already happening in every state. Records containing extensive personal information are available on the Internet, and the elected officials that post this information put individuals at risk by failing to remove or black out Social Security numbers and other sensitive data.
The fact that Congressman Wexler and his wife were extorted should not be the big story. The big story should be the fact that these records, with Social Security numbers exposed, are made available on the Internet, thanks to elected officials.
Betty Ostergren recently found the same documents for one major U.S. corporation and their top brass on twelve different state government websites. The same list of Social Security numbers and home addresses for the top executives appeared on government websites in in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and South Dakota. And each year that the company filed a report within those states, the same 40+ Social Security numbers showed up on the documents, which are available to anyone in the world. (North Carolina did unsuccessfully attempt to redact the numbers.) The Social Security numbers of many top executives from many corporations are available on the Internet, on public records published on state websites. And so are the Social Security numbers of plain old Joe Shmoes, too. But most of them don’t realize it, and when their identities are compromised, they’ll wonder how their Social Security numbers got into the wrong hands.
We live in an ignorant country, where people pay more attention to sports and entertainment than the actions of our legislators.
Go to The Virginia Watchdog and read everything you can to become fully informed about the identity theft crisis fueled by public records.
1. Prevent new account fraud. Get a credit freeze. Go to ConsumersUnion.org and follow the steps for your particular state. This is an absolutely necessary tool to secure your credit. In most cases, it prevents new accounts from being opened in your name. This makes your Social Security number useless to a potential identity thief.
2. Invest in Intelius Identity Theft Protection and Prevention. While not all forms of identity theft can be prevented, you can effectively manage your personal identifying information by knowing what’s buzzing out there in regards to YOU.
Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Speaker discussing Social Security numbers on Fox News