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Norwalk investigating mailings containing Social Security numbers

Scott Seitz2 • Jan 30, 2014 at 2:07 PM

Norwalk officials still are investigating how thousands of tax-related postcards containing citizens' Social Security numbers were mailed by a Cleveland company.

The situation was discussed at a city council meeting Tuesday night and first reported in the Norwalk Reflector the next day. A follow-up story also was published in Thursday's issue.

Diane Eschen, finance director, said the city provided Shamrock, the firm which processed the postcards, information including the Social Security numbers.

Eschen said the company assumed the numbers were city file or account numbers and printed them on the card that was mailed, not realizing they were Social Security numbers.

The cards were originally mailed to provide residents access to 2013 Norwalk municipal income tax forms.

City residents who received this first card should destroy it, Eschen said.

A second card is in the process of being mailed.

"Some residents have already received their second card," she said.

"We are very, very sorry," Eschen said. "Unfortunately, we can't take it back at this point."

Eschen said Shamrock is a large company that provides similar services for cities such as Toledo and Columbus.

The first batch of postcards cost $4,000, not including postage.

The second batch is being mailed at no cost to the city.

Eschen said though she knows it might not provide much consolation, the cards were sent to individuals with their own information.

"Shred it -- tear it up," she said.

Will the city contract with Shamrock in the future?

"At this point, we're having conversations with them," Eschen said.

Law Director Stuart O'Hara is also monitoring the situation.

"Sure, the city is upset and disappointed it happened," he said.

"Last year was the first time we did it," O'Hara said. "But, the cards last year did not have overt identifiers on it."

Jeff Colvin, Norwalk Certified Public Accountant, said Wednesday he originally called the city about the issue.

"I'm very concerned," Colvin said. "But, I'm not surprised anymore and that's not directed at the city, really at federal and state levels of government.

"Whether it's the federal or state level, everything has to be done fast," Colvin said, adding the emphasis is placed on getting thing done quickly at the federal and state level rather than correctly.

"This is stuff I see happen all the time," Colvin said. "Unfortunately, there's no accountability."

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