Mailing May Have Risked Taxpayers’ Identities

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NORWALK, Ohio -- A mass mailing mistake may have put some Northeast Ohio taxpayers’ identities at risk.

Last week, the City of Norwalk mailed out 8,000 postcards reminding taxpayers who earned income in Norwalk that they are required to fill out a municipal income tax form.

The mailing contained a return postcard for anyone requesting a blank municipal income tax form. Norwalk Law Director Stuart O’Hara said that postcard mistakenly contained the taxpayer’s name and social security number.

"If they returned the postcard to the publisher because they wish to have a hard copy of the tax form then the social security number would become visible,” O’Hara stated.

Charlene Booher, of Norwalk, was surprised when she got the mailing.

“It had my social security number on it. I'm like –oh --that's really nice. You know that's a bad error on their part," she said.

O’Hara said the mistake came from the publishing company the city used to print and mail out the postcards.

"They thought it was an account number, some other type of identifier. But it did not have any dashes like a typical social security number does. It was just an error on their part,” said O'Hara.

Booher is worried about what could happen.

“They could get a hold of my personal information, bank accounts things like that," she said.

O'Hara said a second mailing went out this week disclosing the social security mistake and what the taxpayer should do.

"Please destroy safely the postcard that they received and here is a new one without the social security on it," said O'Hara.

O’Hara said the city will most likely not send out a mass mailing next year and make blank municipal income tax forms available at places like the post office and libraries.


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