If you filed for bankruptcy, your Social Security number could be online

2008-08-06 08:00:00

The Social Security numbers of hundreds of Monroe County residents who filed for bankruptcy several years ago are available for viewing on the County Clerk’s Web site.

Tom Hasman, the Democratic candidate for Monroe County Clerk, is calling attention to the availability of this information, which could be viewed as a gift to identity thieves.

The numbers are listed on U.S. Bankruptcy Court documents filed with the clerk’s office between 2000 and 2003. It was a common practice then to list Social Security numbers on such documents, which are open to public scrutiny.

At a press conference outside the clerk’s office, Hasman accused his opponent, incumbent Republican Cheryl Dinolfo, of ignoring “a major security breach” and called on her to take down the Web site until the offending pages could be located and scrubbed.

“This disaster happened because we have a politician, not a professional, in the county clerk’s office,” said Hasman, a computer security consultant.

Dinolfo said her staff has spent weeks searching some 15 million pages of such public documents for the numbers and redacting them. But she could not say when the process would be completed or how many pages contain Social Security numbers.

Aides said the search began in mid-July when the clerk’s office launched an updated version of its Web site and implemented new software to facilitate the redacting of sensitive information.

“We are working diligently to remove those numbers from the Web site,” said Dinolfo, adding that she had no intention of disabling the Web site to remove the documents, as critics suggested.