Thursday, January 04, 2007

WI. DOR: Idiots!

When it was reported that the Wisconsin DOR had made identity theft easy by mailing tax returns complete with highly-visible Social Security numbers right on the mailing label, WI DoRevenue folks went into Blame-Anyone-Else mode.

DoR officials chose to blame the label-printing/mailing firm. They're handy.

About 170,000 tax booklets were mailed with Social Security numbers on the address labels because of a computer programming error at a printing company hired by the state, Meredith Helgerson, spokeswoman for the state Department of Revenue, said Friday.

Well, not so fast. Turns out that DoR SENT the SSANs to the printer as part of the files!

The state Department of Revenue had no business reason for providing Social Security numbers to a contractor that went on to mistakenly print the numbers on the outside of 170,000 tax booklets mailed to Wisconsin residents.

"I suppose technically there would be a way to remove that information from that file and, you know, certainly in retrospect that would have prevented this particular problem," [Rev Sec'y] Engan said.

...actually, about 20 keystrokes from a DoR programmer, give or take a few.


Billiam said...

Hang it all, Dad! Common sense and Gummint don't mix! You know that!

m.z. forrest said...

We were blessed to have my wife's ssn prominately displayed on our booklet. My goodness. They make it sound like it is rocket science to omit a field in a db query. Of course, they are probably using the SSN as a key. They shouldn't be doing that! Oh well.

Anonymous said...

Hi there,

I just came across your blog and must say it took me by suprise that no one had picked up on this error before sending out all the address labels.

Anonymous said...

I just got a letter from WI DOR that states they posted my social security number with real estate sales data on their website for three months before someone contacted them and they removed it. You would think they could learn from the mailing mistake. But idiots don't learn!