Thousands of Social Security numbers exposed in Pierce County

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by KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on September 9, 2013 at 5:37 PM

Updated Monday, Sep 9 at 5:37 PM

The Pierce County Housing Authority is conducting an investigation into a security breach that impacts all the people on the county's wait list for Section 8 housing.

The staff does not yet know how it happened, but the names and social security numbers of all the people on the wait list appeared online. That is about 1,000 people.

Monique Patterson, an applicant on the wait list, discovered the breach last week. She searched her name online, and a link appeared to the Pierce County Housing Authority website appeared. When she clicked on the link, it opened a spreadsheet showing the private information.

"I just started crying," she said. "I don't know if it was a pregnancy or just disbelief. You'd never think that a secure site would not be so secure."

Patterson is a mother of 6, with twins on the way. She has been struggling to find affordable, adequate housing for her family.

"We're working as diligently as we can to get to the bottom of it, to assure ourselves that we never have a recurrence," said Karen Hull, executive director of the county's housing authority.

Hull says it is still unclear how long the information was accessible. They contract to an outside agency for their IT services.

Her staff is preparing a letter to send out to everyone impacted by the breach. They are offering free credit reports and free credit report classes to everyone on the list.

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