VT Department of Taxes inadvertently releases more than 1,000 SSNs

MONTPELIER — The Vermont Department of Taxes (VDT) inadvertently displayed personal data from a weekly batch of Property Transfer Tax Returns for less than two hours on a vendor portion of its website on January 9th.
A computer error began a process that resulted in an extra field added to a routine public report. The social security numbers of 1,332 individuals and the Federal Employee Identification Number of 245 businesses were involved. The property transfer report is posted weekly on a data page ordinarily accessed only by real estate professionals; immediate investigation identified two of the three parties who accessed the page during the time in question, and they have destroyed the information.  VDT is working to identify the final party, who will be advised that they inadvertently received confidential taxpayer information that must be destroyed.
The Vermont Department of Taxes is moving aggressively to ensure that taxpayers are protected from identity theft.  All affected taxpayers will receive a letter alerting them that their personal information was inadvertently disclosed.  Letters will be sent no later than Saturday, January 14th.  The letter encourages taxpayers affected by the inadvertent disclosure to take the following steps: 
Call or email the Department of Taxes if they have questions regarding this issue.  Taxpayers may call (866) 348-4038 or email questions [email protected]  
Check back for updates posted on our website at http://www.state.vt.us/tax/DataProtection.shtml.  The Department will also post updates through its Facebook page and Twitter account. 
Learn more about credit monitoring, details to be set forth in the letter to individual taxpayers. 
While we are confident that the risk to affected taxpayers is small, the Department encourages taxpayers to use these resources. 
Also, the Vermont Department of Taxes is immediately reviewing all safeguards related to the disclosure of taxpayer information.  Department staff will strengthen the procedures related to the publication of this specific report.   Also, standard operating procedure at VDT requires that the Taxpayer Advocate investigate and prepare a report with recommendations after any such inadvertent disclosure.  “Safeguarding your personal information is the top priority of the Department of Taxes, and we will take every corrective action to ensure that this mistake does not occur again,” said Tax Commissioner Mary Peterson.  “I encourage all affected taxpayers to take advantage of the resources being offered to address this unfortunate error.”
Mary Peterson, Tax Commissioner
State of Vermont
January 10, 2012

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