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No one in trouble for SSN debacle

Scott Seitz2 • Feb 5, 2014 at 3:15 PM

Norwalk officials reported Monday no one will face discipline involving the release of residents' Social Security numbers during a postcard mailing last week.

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

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.

When asked about the potential of a city employee or employees being disciplined for what happened, Norwalk Mayor Rob Duncan referred the matter to Law Director Stuart O'Hara.

"I don't believe at this time there will be discipline of an employee of the city," O'Hara said.

O'Hara said the publishing company, Shamrock, made the error.

O'Hara explained why Shamrock had the Social Security numbers in the first place.

"They (Shamrock) are more than just a publishing company," he said. "They also do the program online tax tool where people can calculate their tax return.

"The city wasn't just handing out Social Security numbers," O'Hara added. "The numbers were needed for the program to work."

Because Shamrock deals with Social Security numbers all of the time, there should not be a concern about Norwalk's numbers getting into the wrong hands.

Councilman Stephen Schumm said he was informed the Cleveland company will do "the same thing as last year."

Last year, resident identifiers were not included on the card.

"There was no way to proof it (this year)," Schumm said.

Councilman Chris Mushett is also juvenile and probate court administrator.

"I know, at the court, we have to be very particular in what we release as public information," he said. "We go to great pains to see that doesn't happen, but once in a while, we might forget to redact a Social Security number.

"But this time, it did happen and it's like un-ringing the bell," Mushett said. "You can't go back and start over."

"Unfortunately, it happened," Councilman Bob Carleton said. "This was just a mistake -- an error.

"Should it have happened? No," Carleton said. "Mistakes happen. We're still human. The tragedy would be if we don't learn from it."

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