For the fourth time in the last six years, the Wisconsin Department of Revenue has negligently released personal information on Wisconsin taxpayers putting them at serious risk of identity theft. This time the Wisconsin DOR put up on its website a report of real estate property sales from 2011, but included for all the world to see 110,795 Social Security numbers of people involved in those transactions. The state is offering free credit monitoring to those people whose Social Security numbers were released, but that is of little consolation when you consider the shoddy information security practices of the Wisconsin Department of Revenue.
The Wisconsin Department of Revenue is not the only transgressor when it comes to inadqeuate data security and unfortunately, your own personal security is only as safe as the company or agency that holds your data with the weakest security measures in place. The best place to look for a helping hand is at the end of your own arm so you should proactively consider protecting your credit report with a credit freeze so that even if someone obtains your Social Security number they cannot get access to your credit report for a large purchase. You should also limit the places to which you give your personal information as much as possible and always inquire as to their security practices.