No one in trouble for SSN debacle

No city employee will face discipline for the release of Norwalk residents' Social Security numbers on mailings.
Scott Seitz2
Feb 4, 2014
Log out
Search

Search form

Close Search

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."

 

Comments

former local

Anyone surprised?

onegirlarmy

Not surprised at all.
As long as they get their money!!!

coolstorybro

really? so it's okay to expose people to potential risk of their SSN and identity theft but no one will be in trouble for this? thats ridiculous.

Ehovemom

I hope that members of city council, as well as other city officials think carefully before contracting out more of the city's duties. Citizens used to be able to get help from the income tax department. Now that is not allowed and some of the duties of the income tax office have been contracted to Shamrock who is the company who made the error in releasing the private information.

It is my understanding that city payroll is now subcontracted, also? By delegating city functions to outside contractors - you then have no one to be held responsible.

A private company contracted by the city made the error; not any city employees. And the employees are not the ones who sign the contracts with these private companies.

Truckstop

No one "in trouble?" Are we in elementary school? This is real life, Reflector, and your leading headline borders on editorializing. Perhaps you could ask some legitimate journalistic questions rather than sensationalizing what could actually be a legitimate story. I'll ask some for you since you apparently don't have the ability.

1. When was the contract with Shamrock signed?
2. When does it expire?
3. What will a Shamrock do to rectify this very serious mistake?
4. What has the mayor done to hold their feet to the fire?
5. Has the SSD yet figured out that he needs to show up, and that his was not a patronage appointment?

Of course the finance director couldn't have done anything about this and to punish her for something she didn't do would be to scapegoat the problem. But, we can use these lessons to ensure that we get a better contractor in the future.

Fibber Mcgee

Didn't know we had a Safety Service Director. The mayor has been doing all the talking.

Cliff Cannon

@ Truckstop : What an insightful, well written commentary you have here. I'll bet a bunch, many of your questions are now getting answered.

rbenn

Taking lessons from the obama administration aye duncan?

Windy

LOL - Like

Contango

NR: "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."

They deal “with SSN all of the time,” BUT they didn't think that including them on the cards was inappropriate?

Even without dashes between the numbers, they couldn't figure them out?

Incredulous!

Sleep tight good tax-paying citizens of Norwalk.

Murphy's Law: If something can go wrong, it will.

JACKEL

Like, who doesn't recognize SS numbers ? Hey Joe, before you crank up the printer, don't these numbers look familiar ?

Contango

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

No proof possible? A proof is ALWAYS possible.

If you can't dazzle 'em with your brilliance....

ohiobuzzard

Well no $hit there account #s! There tax account No. What would you expect them to be! I go though great pains to make sure that the use of mine is as limited as I possible can. "no one in trouble" are you flipping kidding me!? This is total BS! Heads should roll for this on. I will also say this, I did not shop at target, so if I get ID jacked I won't be naming them in the law suit but the city of norwalk will be topping the list. UNBELIEVABLE!

ohiobuzzard

And just a farther note. Shamrock may have made the mistake and sent out ssn on the post cards but somebody from the city reviewed the format of those cards and gave them the approval to go ahead and and run them that way. Just who would might that have been?

Contango

NR: "No one in trouble for SSN debacle"

NO ONE is "in trouble" because the Duncan admin. and the city council are circling the wagons.

Remember when the IRS used to send out post cards with a peel-off label with your name & SSN on it and you sent it back if you wanted tax forms?

The IRS stopped it due to the expense.

Who was it that thought that in 2014 that spending $4K plus on this was still a good idea?

If "no one" is being held accountable & disciplined, 'some one' should honorably resign.

Fibber Mcgee

Did you read the NEDC story? Thoughts..

Contango

Re: "NEDC story,"

Yes. They are again "forting up."

IMO, the NEDC has essentially become a grant-writing agency that is bringing in 'free money.'

In that regard it does have merit as long as 'free money' continues to flow.

My question: Is there a less costly method in order to accomplish a similar result?

If Norwalk does not plan for fiscal austerity, it will eventually be thrust upon it and more than likely at the most inopportune time.

One either plans for that eventuality or is 'surprised' by it.

Old saying: The time to repair that hole in the roof is when the sun is shining.

Cliff Cannon

Contango: Re : " Remember when the IRS used to send out post cards with a peel-off label with your name & SSN on it and you sent it back if you wanted tax forms? "

Perhaps,we did not have to worry quite as much about identity theft back then. Still, the fact that our S.S. numbers have been 'around' so to speak, in so many general area's for so long. That, getting so bent out of shape this time, might be considered somewhat an over reaction ? Just asking.

P.S. I do really like " Truckstop's " questions,however.

Contango

Re: "Perhaps,we did not have to worry quite as much about identity theft back then."

Begs my question blog buddy Cliff.

The IRS said that they stopped the cards because most tax filers were using tax preparers and didn't need the paper forms mailed.

How is it that the IRS stopped the cards a decade or so ago and 'some one' still thinks that it's a good idea?

Remember also: The Duncan admin. said that it would no longer help tax payers prepare the city income tax forms due to the expense.

"Over reaction"?

How did the 'snafu' come to light?

The city website referred to it as a "printing error." Not 'too' descriptive eh?

Obviously in some eyes: The curse of Cassandra.

Cliff Cannon

@ Contango : My bad, now I see your point's. Although, my point about S.S. #'s being 'out there' for a long time is a valid point as well, isn't it ? Obviously, I can not answer your questions. So, rather than speculate ......

" The curse of Cassandra ? " Perhaps. Although, I have a hunch Mayor Duncan is starting to feel more like one of suitors trapped in the writhing hair of Medusa

Contango

Re: "one of suitors trapped in the writhing hair of Medusa,"

According to what I read in the NR regarding the SOTC speech; the ol' message of "hope & change" and 'jobs, jobs, jobs,' plus some additional spending is alive and well.

Perhaps the story of Echo?

Cliff Cannon

@ Contango : I am not sure,what you disliked about Mayor Duncan's speech. However, there were a number of things ( the amount of new construction, the 2.5 million in carry over, commending our excellent schools at the top of the list ) that I feel that show's Norwalk is not about to become a city with only a glorious past, despite our many recent setbacks

Still, there have to be many days , when Mayor Duncan considering the amount of wrongly placed blame he gets for many of our 'set backs',says to himself : " What the hades was I thinking to run for Mayor "

Contango

Re: "the amount of wrongly placed blame,"

Conversely, he seems to take credit for that which he is also not responsible.

Reminds me of :

"Eighty percent of success is just showing up." - Woody Allen

Good schools? Without additional local taxpayer funding, the public one appears to be headed for potential trouble.

Not-to-worry; ya got another two years to enjoy this 'leading by following' style of governing.

FTFOI

Contango is correct. Is there any reason we are hitting our heads against the wall expecting a different outcome.
Jobs, Jobs, Jobs.... ?????
Yet Our city contracts out of town companies to do work because it is cheaper? I do not get it.
The county does the same.
So to sum it up. We (Norwalk, Huron County, Eco.Dept) want to see the county and area grow and bring in new business and jobs, But we send as much work and money out as we can to try and save a dollar. With out work or business we do not bring in taxes to refill what is spent. Therefore next year we have less to use to improve. Is this correct? Again. I do not get it.

Contango

FYI:

“Red Flag Checklist;

Communicating about your city’s financial condition”

http://www.awcnet.org/Portals/0/...

Lawyerintraining

Wow an eye opener...take the time to read this or even post the your favorite social media site...Norwalk residents REALLY need to,read this page/site

lugnut2511

Remember this when your voting! I know I surely will

fedup2

Lost my vote as well!

Stonybaby

Call city hall and voice your opinion about this careless release of our social security numbers. This is not acceptable.

Lawyerintraining

I have several times....HOW MANY LUNCH BREAKS CAN THESE PEOPLE POSSIBLY TAKE!!!!!! Don't waste your time trying to call...use that time more wisely the next time you VOTE!!! the city may not take any action but we as citizens of Norwalk can...by voting don't let this just slip your mind for now...keep it in mind when voting...I know I will be making some changes the next time I stand there pressing buttons....I urge you to do the same thing..mayor leash thought she didn't need to campaign for her spot and look what happened to her in a single vote mayor Duncan it can happen to you just as well...don't keep your seat to warm...and you will have to come back from lunch at some point!!!!!

Pages