City inadvertently posts personal information

2013-04-10T12:45:00Z 2013-04-10T21:11:29Z City inadvertently posts personal informationJoyce Russell joyce.russell@nwi.com, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2222 nwitimes.com

PORTAGE | A glitch in the posting of a list of 2012 vendors on the city's website inadvertently included personal information, including Social Security numbers, of about 125 people.

That has at least one of those who had their personal information posted seeking legal advice.

Debra Ekdahl, a member of the city's Park Board, said she was "livid" when she got a letter from the city last month saying her information was among those posted on the website.

"I'm concerned about my security," she said, adding that she has contacted an attorney about her options and has asked the city to pay for identity protection service. She added that she doesn't feel she should have to be responsible for the city's error.

Clerk-treasurer Chris Stidham said his office posted a list of 2012 vendors on the city's website Feb. 4. That list includes tax identification numbers and, for individuals, Social Security numbers. The computer program allows the omission of the numbers for web publication, but, for some reason, when it was posted the personal information was included.

Stidham said the error was noticed internally six weeks later and the city took the information down. It then contacted the individuals, primarily board members and parks department contracted services, such as referees, of the issue.

"I don't have any reason to believe anything will happen," said Stidham, adding vendors lists from previous years had been posted, without the personal information, and the list received few "hits" or views.

Stidham said Ekdahl is the only one who approached him after the letters were sent out and the city will pay for a year of identity protection service for her and anyone else whose information was posted and has concerns.

"It's a struggle I have faced, balancing transparency versus providing security. We want to provide as much information as possible without providing personal information," Stidham said.

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