Report: Charity Tax Forms Expose Nearly Half A Million Social Security Numbers

According to researchers from an identity protection company, publicly available tax forms have potentially put hundreds of thousands of identities at risk, publishing 472,866 Social Security Numbers in a five-year span. Charities unnecessarily included the numbers in 990 forms, which are part of public record.

The figures come from Identity Finder, which sifted through nearly 3 million 990s from 2001 to 2006 to dig up SSNs from scholarship recipients, donors, trustees and others associated with the nonprofits.

The largest group that had its numbers exposed were tax preparers who filed the documents and carelessly used SSNs rather than Preparer Tax Identification Numbers.

To protect yourself from potential exposure, you should not share your number with nonprofits you work with. If you’re applying for scholarships, it might be a good idea to look up the organization’s latest 990 on a site such as GuideStar.

To check whether an organization you’ve worked with has exposed SSNs, you can enter the organization’s Employer ID Number at the source link.

Tax Returns Expose SSNs to Public: Study [Identity Finder] (Thanks, Aaron!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

    Whoops. How’d that get there…?

  2. Conformist138 says:

    “According to researchers from an identity protection company…”
    AND the link goes to the company’s page pushing their services?
    This may be true, but it also has a stench of “Be afraid! Give us money!”

  3. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    THIS is why I don’t give to charity.

  4. dolemite says:

    Sometimes I want to give to charity. Then I remember the time I sent $10 to the DNC. Now I get tons of junk mail in my mailbox and I probably get around 2-3 junk emails a day from various DNC related “causes”.

  5. Yomiko says:

    This is why I’m glad my org only has to file a 990-N. No SSN’s required, takes 5 minutes to fill in.

  6. Dave C says:

    The largest group who had their SSNs exposed were *tax preparers*?!? Someone should compile this info into a list of tax preparers to avoid because they’re so clueless they put their own SSNs into public records!

  7. AllanG54 says:

    I’ve never given my SS # to any charity. If and when I donate I usually give cash but when I send a check that’s my receipt and I don’t need anything other written documentation.