Wisconsin Vendor Exposes Residents to Identity Theft

By Matthew Harwood

The exposure of 260,000 Wisconsin residents' Social Security numbers, according to the Associated Press, has resulted in legislative calls for the state to establish emergency credit counseling and call centers in anticipation of future security breaches.

Texas-based Electronic Data Systems Corp., which has a contract with the state, sent the mailings late last week to 260,000 Wisconsin residents. The brochures included the recipients' Social Security number on the address label. The mailing was done on behalf of the state Department of Health and Family Services and was sent to Medicaid, SeniorCare and BadgerCare members.

EDS has said that the error was human in origin and not systemic. Spokesman Bill Ritz said EDS has set up a call center and is working "around the clock" to notify thosed affected.

In response to the security breach, Republican State Senator Ted Kanavas said he will propose a bill to set up call centers with credit counseling in reaction to the news those affected by the breach are encountering busy signals and call disconnections at the state's hotline.

This isn't the first time a state contractor has mailed materials with the recipient's Social Security number on the label. In December 2006, a vendor hired by the Department of Revenue sent 171,000 recipients a tax booklet with their Social Security numbers on the label.



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