Seems no one recalls seeing any media news article regarding Brunswick Police Department (BPD) releasing personal information, including Social Security Numbers, to at least four media outlets.
Wonder if any of the town councilors were even aware of the security data breaches? If so, did any one of them tell others, or instead participate in the hush-up?
This isn't a case of computer hacking by some anonymous source, but rather the Brunswick Police Department giving out individuals' personal information.
Furthermore, this isn't the first time the BPD released personal information which included Social Security Numbers. As evidenced by the pdf link of documents from the State of New Hampshire below, the police department's security breaches hasn't stopped, but remains an on-going problem BPD hasn't fully acknowledged, rectified, and been held accountable for.
Therefore, since the pdf document letters are both dated May 15, 2015, Chief Rizzo and his subordinates' incompetence and lack of accountability remains with the current Town Manager John Eldridge to address.
Could it be possible your personal information is floating out there because of the Brunswick Police Department?
In searching the web, it appears some police departments across the nation have fallen victim to instances of their computers being hacked into, but it seems there are no other web documents nor news articles where police departments, themselves, are the culprits for having actually released personal information, including SSNs. Perhaps the Brunswick Police Department under the leadership of Chief Richard Rizzo has the dubious distinction of being the first in the nation.
(See New Hampshire's Department of Justice pdf documents as evidence of Brunswick Police Department's security breaches linked here.)
The above pdf was recently found during a web search for something else. Oftentimes it's the reality, but happenstance isn't how people should find out what's really going on, and especially in matters of law enforcement for which "services" are paid by the people for law enforcement powers and consequences reaching outside their own jurisdictions.
In other words, Brunswick taxpayers pay for law enforcement whose actions impact not only those living in town, but also affect many others outside the town, throughout the State of Maine, including visitors and tourists.
Naively, some don't realize that any contact with BPD (and likely most police departments), results in the collection of personal data and has a high probability of using/including Social Security numbers. Several States require SSNs in connection with driver's licenses.
So, even if someone's calling for services and/or assistance - be it a traffic accident, vandalism, or reporting theft, sexual assault, received a parking ticket, etc., a wealth of personal data is connected in the database. It's no wonder several police department computer records are being hacked.
It becomes even easier if the police department, which people generally and reasonably have an expectation of investigation and protection of individuals from identity theft, becomes a source for handing out personal information.
Brunswick's Police Department, in fact, has been aware there were problems with employees giving out personal information, including Social Security numbers which they, negligently and/or maliciously, caused to be released to the public as evidenced by letter to BPD dated April 26, 2004 and, in part, reads:
|Not a great idea, Mr. Police Officer!|
"We had previously inquired about the Brunswick Police Department's practice of including Social Security Numbers (SSNs) on documents and requested they be excluded prior to being released to the public.
Again, we have received reports with SSNs; would you please look into this? It seems prudent that no one should be receiving documents from the Brunswick Police Department which contain SSNs." (emphasis added)
These same concerns were repeatedly verbalized and documented in writing to the BPD even after the date of the above letter. No response was ever received by any Brunswick Police Chief regarding ongoing security data breaches.
Additionally disturbing and also brought to BPD's attention, the Brunswick Police Department has, in at least one known instance, participated in identity theft when former town manager, Don Gerrish, placed a "call" as request for service using someone else's personal identification - a citizen and taxpayer's personal information, including Social Security number. This specific computer generated log documented on October 2, 2007 listed the "call taker" as Dowling, Kara. The "call modified and closed by" police officer is listed as Lane, Robert 10/02/2007 @0811; said call which was never made by the person whose identity was used.
Identity theft is said to be the fastest growing crime, including medical identity theft:
I'd met a young Navy man while getting documents from the BPD. The man was almost in tears because, in the process of buying a vehicle from a local dealership in Brunswick, he'd found out someone had stolen his identity.
I told the man it'd been my experience the BPD was aware, and still habitually gave out computer reports and/or logs which contained unredacted personal information, including SSNs. And for the price of only $5 it seemed anyone could request a report and possibly get this kind of information directly from the police department itself.
Unfortunately, the man stated this experience represented yet another reason why he couldn't wait to be transferred out of Maine and into a different permanent duty station.
Other local cases of security data breaches which media has covered include People Plus:
"What did People Plus Leak? Nearly every entry in the leaked People Plus database contained a member's full name, telephone number, home address, birth date, partner or spouse name, email address, IP address and emergency contact information, which also included a phone number and home address."
According to the Bangor Daily News article, the leak occurred because of changes to their data system, but didn't raise legal concerns: "...a glitch must have occurred when he was switching the nonprofit to a new database management system with a higher security system protocol."
Nevertheless, the leak of information, which most would consider private, is cause for concern; as one person noted, some individuals live alone. (BDN source).
Malware is reported as the possible reason for a security data breach at Brunswick Hotel and Tavern as reported in The Forecaster, September 2, 2015 (Data breach at Brunswick hotel possibly exposes cards of 2,600).
Medical Identity Theft is reported on the rise, and has even further implications; death has occurred in some cases because the perpetrator's use changed an individual's records, including conditions, prescriptions, and allergy information. (See St. Louis Business Journal article "Medical identity theft is fastest-growing identity crime in the U.S., and also listen to an interview with Heather Weagenhals "Identity Theft Can and Probably Will Happen to You" linked here).
The harm caused by identity theft is enormous, along with increasing numbers of lawsuits including a class action lawsuit against Anthem:
"Less than 12 hours after Anthem Inc. reported hackers had stolen data on as many as 80 million current and former customers, local attorney Irwin Levin already was preparing a class-action lawsuit against the company.
He expects there will be more as Indianapolis-based Anthem tries to control fallout from the largest data breach ever at a U.S. health care company." (article).
Apparently, it's neither easy nor quick to repair the harm done by identity theft which can occur even years after the information was obtained. Even when going through recommended methods of self-monitoring ones' identity and credit in tandem with identity theft insurance, recovering is difficult and in some cases irreparable.
The following are source links to further understand identity theft. Freezing your credit with the three credit reporting agencies is an option, but reading through more information may help individuals decide which route is best to take.
Heather Weagenhals, among other sources, mention the number one priority is absolutely protecting your Social Security Number by not unnecessarily giving it out. It's my understanding that any business or organization requesting an SSN must explain why they need it and what it's used for.
An excellent visual: "World's Biggest Data Breaches" (information is beautiful)
State Redaction Laws
State of Maine - Bureau of Insurance - Notice of Risk to Personal Data Act
Social Security Numbers - FAQ - privacy rights
FBI - Identity Theft
Experian - Security Freeze
Are Credit Monitoring and Identity Theft Protection Worth the Cost?
Getting back to Brunswick's Police Chief Richard Rizzo and taking a closer look:
Not surprising is the fact mainstream media, even at local levels, withholds information from the public. And within the four media outlets regularly given police log information for their ubiquitous "Police Beats" it's reasonable to expect someone was aware of these security data breaches by the BPD and said nothing. Instead of reporting, they simply looked away.
The State of New Hampshire at least makes an effort to be forthcoming and shares security data breaches information in an attempt to possibly mitigate potential and substantial harm by informing people.
(Update 10/02/2015 to include another pdf link for "Identity Theft Resource Center, Data Breach Reports, July 7, 2015". Note: The Town of Brunswick is listed as the entity under "Government/Military" as type of breach in lieu of specifically listing The Brunswick Police Department. Report IRTC20150616-02, page 8 of 14. Access pdf here.)
It's been my experience along with several others, and also my opinion, Brunswick is the antithesis of transparency. If Chief Rizzo is forthright and credible, the public would've been informed of his incompetence and he would've taken responsibility by stepping up to the plate and telling people it had been a documented problem with BPD.
It wasn't long ago the public heard Chief Rizzo hadn't been informing nor requesting approval from the Town Council for surplus military weapons the BPD had taken in for approximately seven years from the Federal 1033 Program. (BDN's article "Brunswick police now must get Town Council's ok before accepting military surplus weapons." dated January 8, 2015).
The following was also found by happenstance in Ripoff Reports this year. Ripoff Reports is a site which maintains permanent records, and the report on Chief Richard Rizzo was written by the same anonymous woman commenting in The Forecaster compelling me to begin with blog post "Smells Like Agenda 21 in Brunswick":
Ripoff Report #1196847 Brunswick Maine Police Chief Rizzo Former Police Chief in Ayer, Massachusetts Contract Not Renewed After Conviction of Mcguane Brothers...Murder (of) Kelly Proctor:
After the convicton of the Mcguane brothers, Police Chief Rizzo didn't have his contract renewed for 6 months and he resigned, moved 2 states away and became the new Brunswick (Maine) Police Chief.
|Ayer to pay $3.4 million for unjust conviction - Boston Globe|
|Portland Press Herald|