Social Security Numbers Visible on Treasurer's Office Mailer

The mailing went to 36,000 people

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    Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford

    The state treasurer's office might want to consider using email only.

    This month a bank that facilitates a state treasurer program exposed the social security numbers of  36,000 people who participate in Illinois' Bright Directions college savings program when the information was printed on the outside of an envelope.

    The Bright Directions account holders received a quarterly newsletter with their Social Security numbers printed on the outside, in the space reserved for the recipient's name and address.

    Officials say the mistake was made by the bank that keeps records for the program.

    Bridget Byron is director of college savings for the treasurer's office. Byron says the program's participants are being offered free identity theft prevention services and credit monitoring.

    But Byron says the security risk is low because the newsletter went through an electronic mail sorter, so only the mail carriers would have seen the numbers.

    This isn't the first time this year the treasurer's office has had a snafu with mail.

    Earlier in 2011 Dan Rutherford's office alerted residents of a $250 college savings contribution match through Bright Start. Poor communication led to the program being offered to a number of friends and family of a treasurer's office employee, and the general public felt taken advantage of.

    Rutherford came under fire yet again in September when used state funds to mail an 11-page booklet to 850 constituents touting his "successes" in office. That mailing cost $1,400.