Madison’s City Clerk office accidentally released 50 social security numbers online of people applying for liquor licenses for Madison establishments, their office announced Thursday.
According to a city of Madison statement, a city employee discovered on Dec. 19 that a liquor license application packet on a city website contained a social security number. The city immediately shut down the legislative Information Center website and found other applications that contained social security numbers and personal information, according to the statement.
Social security numbers were found on 17 applications, some containing more than one social security number, for a total of at least 50 accidentally released numbers, the statement said.
Because of this leak, the City Clerk’s office has changed its policy by putting less of the application online and will now request less personally-identifiable information, according to the statement.
Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, said the city has worked hard to make sure the date of birth and other personal information is not released. Verveer, who sits on the Alcohol License Review Committee, said the parts of applications for liquor licenses that contain personal information are not put online. They are printed out in hard copy, which only a small number of city workers have access to, he said.
“We have to remain optimistic that criminals aren’t spending their time studying the city legislative website,” Verveer said. “It’s a pretty dry website that your average criminal isn’t looking at. It’s an unusual location to find a social security number.”
Forms generally do not have social security numbers on them, Verveer said. He said tthe only ones that do have been discontinued.
The City Clerk’s office has contacted potential victims individually and warn them, Verveer said. So far, none of the potential victims’ identities have been compromised, he added.
“We’ve come a long way on this issue of identity theft,” Verveer said. “I’ve served on ALRC where no one even thought of it as an issue, to where we are today where 50 social security numbers are compromised.”
Ald. Scott Resnick, District 8, said one of the things we can learn from this is the dangers of having all the attachments on applications released, especially when we cannot review all of the information in them.
He said luckily, it was isolated information, and city workers and the City Clerk have checked all areas of vulnerability.
“Mistakes do happen with technology, especially when information like this is released,” Resnick said. “I believe they have taken the necessary step to prevent this from happening in future.”