PEOPLE IN NEWTON COUNTY ARE CONCERNED OVER A DATA LEAK… WHERE THEIR SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBERS WERE POSTED ON A WEBSITE. OUR DANNY TODD HAS THE EXCLUSIVE STORY ON HOW AND WHERE THE NUMBERS SHOWED UP AND WHAT'S BEING DONE ABOUT IT.
In August of last year, Jason Neese contacted the Newton County Tax Assessor's office about a data leak that involved hundreds of Newton County residents’ Social Security Numbers.
JASON NEESE- AFFECTED RESIDENT says "I found out about the leak of Social Security numbers because I was checking the local website to see if our land tax has been paid. And upon looking at the website, I could see my wife's name and her Social Security number. Just up there on the public site And I knew something wasn't right."
Not only were Social Security numbers made available to the world to see, Jason Neese tells Twin States News that their bank account information was listed as well and who they bank with. And he says that created a whole new list of problems that could happen.
JASON NEESE said "I was told by someone in office that it had been talked about. Now, I brought this up a couple of months ago, but I can still go to that main site and see that it's still up there. So I'm just really wanting it to be taken down. So the, you know, Social Security numbers aren't exposed to any more than they already have been."
When Twin States News first visited the website last week the Social Security numbers were still on the site. But after we contacted the tax assessor's office in Newton County, the link to the page with the social security numbers was removed from the website.
MAY BENDER- TAX ASSESSOR/COLLECTOR says "When this was brought to us in August, we went into our system, which is our main frame, and removed all them from the AS 400, which is our mainframe system. At that point we assumed that it was taken care of, which we probably shouldn't have. We should have went further."
JASON NEESE says "I think the people affected really need to know what's going to be done for them going forward."
MAY BENDER adds "And this is something that happened before I was tax collector had no idea that we were even asking for Social Security numbers. I have employees that worked here before, and that's just the way that they were putting them in."
The Newton County Tax collector and assessor, May Bender, tells Twin States News that she and her office are doing everything in their power to make sure that the data is removed from the website for good. She apologizes for any inconvenience this may have caused any taxpayers in Newton County.
Danny Todd, Twin States News, Decatur.