The other day an institution that shall remain nameless contacted me via form letter to notify me that my social security number was “accidentally” published on their public website along with thousands of others. They basically said “our bad” and suggested that I do something to make sure that I don’t become the victim of identity theft. Great. After over a decade of building a pretty decent credit record it can all be potentially taken away because of a frickin’ accident. (The only reason I don’t want to mention the institution by name is because their security protocol obviously has serious holes in it and some overzealous hacker may opt to infiltrate and jack others.)

When you think about it us regular Joes and Janes are at the mercy of a flawed credit system. Our ability to get credit, which allows the working class to buy houses and cars, is tied directly to our social security numbers. These are the same social security numbers that every doctor we’ve ever seen keeps on file, that every job we’ve ever had keeps in a dusty archived file in some random storage unit that no one monitors, that every tax preparer we’ve ever hired keeps in a file, that every insurance company we ever applied for a policy with has on file… you get the picture.

Our information is out there in many random hands. Our livelihoods depend upon incompetent people not being incompetent and not accidentally posting our social security numbers on the internet. It also depends on the hiring practices of companies. If companies that handle sensitive personal data are hiring crooks then we’re in a heap of trouble.