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Accidental identity information release costs Bay Village

By Jeff Gallatin

BAY VILLAGE

One accidental click of a keypad has led to the city of  Bay Village providing a year’s worth of identity protection for up to 41 people and city Finance Director Steve Presley working a day without pay.

Presley said while responding to a public information request on 1099 tax forms in mid-February for independent contractors and part-time employees for the city, he accidentally released the Social Security numbers for the workers.

“It was a mistake on my part,” Presley said. “I was trying to respond to the request in a timely fashion, so I found a document which listed all of the 1099s. Instead of having to go through and put all of them together, I found the one document and thought I could save some effort by sending it, so I did.”

Presley said a short time after sending the information, he got a message from the recipient asking if he was aware what he sent had people’s Social Security numbers on it.

“I didn’t, so I told the person I would send another document with the information on the Social Security numbers redacted on it,” he said. “Well, in the time it took to get the info without the numbers, I already had taken another call from someone saying she had gotten the document with the numbers on it. I don’t know if the original document got e-mail blasted by someone else, but at that point I decided we better take some action.”

After discussing the matter with Mayor Debbie Sutherland and Law Director Gary Ebert, Presley said the officials decided to have the city provide identity theft protection for a year for any of the 41 people who want it.

“We don’t know right now how many of the 41 people will sign up for this,” he said. “We felt it was fair to provide it for up to a year for people, since their personal information is out there because of the city. I’ve heard from one of the contractors, who wasn’t particularly concerned by this, but we are providing the protection for those who are.”

Presley said he budgeted $3,500 for the expense, but can’t yet say how much of that will actually be spent.

“It will depend on how many people actually sign up,” he said.

In addition, Presley said, he suspended himself without pay for a day.

“I’d have to take action if someone else had done this,” he said. “I’m certainly not exempt from that, so I took the action. I don’t have it broken down exactly, but it certainly doesn’t equal the $3,500.”

Sutherland said the mistake was regrettable, but noted it was out of character for Presley.

“It definitely isn’t the norm,” she said. “All I can figure is, he was so busy with the budget discussions that this slipped by him. It was a mistake and he’s dealt with it. He even worked the day he was suspended. So we got his usual work and kept the money that day.”

 

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