Another fowl-up involving Wisconsin taxpayers' personal information leads to an immediate review of state agencies.
The state Department of Administration is apologizing for a folding error, that caused social security numbers to be fully visible in the window area of up to 5,000 envelops containing a tax form sent to taxpayers in Northeastern Wisconsin.
Governor Jim Doyle calls it “unacceptable.” He has asked Milwaukee-based financial firm Metavante to lead an immediate review and figure out how to best protect private information.
DOA Secretary Michael Morgan welcomes the review. “I agree with Governor Doyle that any breach of personal information – no matter how small – is unacceptable.”
Revenue Secretary Roger Ervin reassures citizens that his office implements comprehensive measures to maintain a privacy protection plan, including keeping up-to-date physical security systems, criminal background checks on new employees, training and certification of all DOR employees, and new contracting procedures.
But one might wonder, why even use social security numbers on such mailings? “We only use social security numbers when it is required by law, as in the case with 1099-Gs. All other communications with taxpayers are done through taxpayer I.D.s which are only relevant to the Department of Revenue; there is no market value for those numbers.”
Ervin says his agency is working to eliminate paper, and move to an electronic system for higher protection. The state was notified of the screw up last week, and notified potential victims of ID theft in a mailing Monday. Those affected are being offered one year of free credit monitoring by the state. This is the third time in just over a year that citizens' social security numbers were compromised.
The mis-folded forms were sent to taxpayers in Freedom, Kaukauna, Keshena, Kimberly, Krakow, Lakewood, Lena, Little Chute, Little Suamico and Marinette.