Government officials are posting our SS 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 SS 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 SS 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 SS numbers exposed, are made available on the Internet, thanks to elected officials.
Betty Ostergren recently found the same documents for one major US corporation and their top brass on twelve different state government websites. The same list of SS numbers and home addresses for the top executives 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+ SS numbers showed up on the documents, which are available to anyone in the world. (North Carolina did unsuccessfully attempt to redact the numbers.) The SS 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 SS 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.