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Republican lawmaker blasts Revenue Department over sold property breach


By SCOTT BAUER?
Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) – A Republican legislator called for an investigation Wednesday into the inadvertent release of Social Security and tax identification numbers by the Wisconsin Revenue Department.

Rep. Tyler August, of Lake Geneva, blasted the Revenue Department for including the personal information on a file that was publically available on its website for three months before it was removed Monday. He called the error “intrusive,” and said it was especially troubling because it was the third such breach in recent years.

The file was a list of every person and business that sold property in Wisconsin in 2011, based on public records. It is primarily used by real estate professionals and organizations to find property sales information across the state when appraising property, advising clients and negotiating prices, the Revenue Department said.

The department identified 106,092 individual people whose personal information was on an imbedded file available on the website. It had been accessed 138 times.

All of those affected will receive a letter being mailed by the end of the week notifying them of the breach and making them aware that a year of free credit monitoring will be made available, said Revenue Department spokeswoman Stephanie Marquis.

That credit monitoring will cost up to $600,000 to provide, she said.

“We agree with Representative August that this was unacceptable and will assist him in his inquiry however possible,” Marquis said.

This is the third time since 2006 that the Department of Revenue has made taxpayers’ personal information public. The department mailed 171,000 tax booklets with recipients’ Social Security numbers printed on the label in December 2006. In January 2008, as many as 5,000 tax forms were mailed that included the number in the address pane.

A spokesman for Gov. Scott Walker also criticized the breach, calling it unacceptable, and said the governor was committed to improving state government’s “processing and handling of documentation that contains personal information.”

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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