Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert
Government officals are posting our Social Security numbers on the web, but are requiring corporations to keep them under lock and key.
I worked with Betty “BJ” Ostergren who is the founder of The Virginia Watchdog on this article. We both recently reported on Congressman Robert Wexlersâ€™ becoming a target of an extortion plot by a man from Ghana who supposedly got his and wife’s SSN off a public record supposedly The Virginia Watchdog site. For anyone who is still in the dark or has their head stuck in the sand about SSNs being put online by elected or appointed state gov’t officials, this site and its founder for seven years has been trying to stop this hemorrhaging of SSNs. In VA (and in other states), the Virginia General Assembly apparently wants this personal info online since they have NOT passed any laws mandating the removal of SSNs – much less even appropriating the funding for redaction programs to black them out.
Records are put online by state officials all over the U.S. because they are public records. It has already happened in every state – not just VA. Records with too much personal info are online now and available in anyone’s home all over the world. But elected officials did it without protecting the people by removing or blacking out the personal info like SSNs.
The big story should not be that Congressman Wexler and his wife have become victims. The big story should be that thanks to elected officials like Court Clerks, Recorders, or Secretaries of States, these records are made available on the internet without protecting SSNs.
Recently, The Virginia Watchdog‘s founder found the same documents for one major U.S. corporation and their top brass on TWELVE different state government websites. The same list of SSNs and home addresses for the top execs appeared on government websites 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+ SSNs show up on the documents… all open to the world…and anyone in Ghana, too. (Note: NC attempted to redact the numbers but failed miserably.)
But there are many corporations’ top execs’ SSNs on the world wide web on public records on these state sites…and also many plain old Joe Schmoes’, too. It’s just that not one of them know it and then they will wonder how someone got their SSN number when their identity is compromised.
We live in an ignorant country where people vote like crazy for the American Idol, or know every stat for football teams or basketball teams, but they don’t pay attention to what really matters. People in this country pay more attention to sports than to what our legislators are doing.
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 whatâ€™s buzzing out there in regards to YOU.
Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Speaker discussing Social Security numbers on Fox News