Coyote Bounty Claimants Exposed
Published 9:54 am Wednesday, October 18, 2017
The Charlotte County Board of Supervisors has exposed coyote bounty claimants to the risk of identity theft by placing their social security numbers (SSN) on public display. Recent data breaches remind us of the importance of protecting personal information, and in particular a person’s SSN. Therefore, we must ask our supervisors why they did not protect the claimant’s personal information.
In order to claim the $25 bounty for killing a coyote, a written application must be completed. The application requires the claimant’s full 9-digit SSN, along with their name, complete address, and phone number. The County makes all this information open to the public at the entrance to the Board room in a book titled “Handouts for Public Review.”
The County administration prepares a board packet which is sent to each supervisor in advance of their monthly meeting. The board packet for October 10th included 8 pages of coyote claims, each with the claimant’s SSN. The supervisors vote separately to pay the coyote claims. Often one supervisor votes “No.” Do our supervisors read the advance material supporting what they vote on? If so, how could they not be aware they were making each claimant’s SSN public?
While there may be reason to collect a claimant’s SSN and other information to process a claim, it is unnecessary and wrong to post this information in public view. Computer hackers must work to steal personal information needed for identity theft. The County makes it easy, no theft necessary as each claimant’s personal information is posted in the open for all to see.
Why are our supervisors so careless with citizen’s personal information which is required to be protected? I expect their care is different for their own SSN.
Terry Ramsey is a guest columnist, a 1967 graduate of Randolph-Henry High School, and a resident of Charlotte Court House. His email address is Terrill.Ramsey@outlook.com.