State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) represents parts of four counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, and Walworth. Her Senate District 28 includes New Berlin, Franklin, Greendale, Hales Corners, Muskego, Waterford, Big Bend, the town of Vernon and parts of Greenfield, East Troy, and Mukwonago. Senator Lazich has been in the Legislature for more than a decade. She considers herself a tireless crusader for lower taxes, reduced spending and smaller government.
The Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services (DHFS) says the Department is not going to use Social Security numbers to identify recipients of state healthcare programs. Department Secretary Kevin Hayden told the state Assembly Committee on Consumer Protection and Personal Privacy that DHFS is working with Electronic Data Systems, the Texas-based company that erroneously printed the Social security numbers, to change identification numbers to a unique 10 digit number rather than using Social security numbers.
DHFS Secretary Hayden said the current 10-digit number system includes Social Security numbers. The system will be replaced with a fake identifying number that is not based on Social Security numbers.
The news is less reassuring from state Department of Revenue (DOR) Secretary Roger Ervin. Ervin told the same committee that, according to the Janesville Gazette, state agencies are moving away from using Social Security numbers as identifiers except when absolutely necessary.
After three breaches of privacy in the past 13 months, I am unable to fathom a situation where it is absolutely necessary to publish the Social Security number of any recipient of a state service.
The Social Security numbers of hundreds of thousands of state residents were exposed in recent mailings. The numbers were clearly visible, putting thousands of Wisconsin residents in jeopardy of identity theft. The Texas-based EDS is providing free credit monitoring to affected residents and will cover all expenses incurred because of the mistake.
This is interesting.
Secretary Hayden is asking Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen to think about legal action against EDS.
“Confidential information should never have been printed, and this failure has exposed our members (recipients of state services) to identity theft,” said Secretary Hayden.
If confidential information should never have been printed, as Secretary Hayden suggests, then it stands to reason that all state agencies should refrain from using Social Security numbers for identification. Wisconsin is the only Midwest state that still uses Social Security numbers as identification numbers. It is time for that practice to end.