Woman's Social Security Number Displayed To Millions During Democratic National Convention

How do you know you’re watching television with a Consumerist editor? Our commenters will probably formulate all kinds of punchlines for that setup, but last night, I was half paying attention to former President Bill Clinton’s speech at the Democratic National Convention on CNN when I happened to see an elderly supporter waving her Medicare card at the camera. Her name and Social Security number were completely legible. “We can read her card! Stop showing that!” I shouted at the TV. The people on the television never listen to personal finance bloggers who are shouting at them.

Clinton was talking about Medicare, you see, and she was waving her card to show her support. Putting that number out there puts her financial identity at risk. The people over at Credit.com noticed this mistake, too.

Even the government thinks putting Social Security Numbers out there more than they need to be is a bad idea: just a few weeks ago, the Government Accountability Office suggested using different numbers to identify Medicare recipients, or obscuring part of the number on Medicare cards in the future.

So what should you do if your own Social Security Number is breached, even if it’s not on television in front of millions? Call the credit monitoring agencies to put an initial security alert on your file. Use AnnualCreditReport.com to review your files, and immediately report anything suspicious to the credit bureaus and to your local police.

A DNC Flub Could Put a Woman’s Identity at Risk


Edit Your Comment

  1. Blueskylaw says:

    Don’t worry, she has LifeLock with its $1,000,000 guarantee (whatever the hell that means).

    • NotEd says:

      Lifelock guarantees your identity won’t be stolen for up to an in including one million dollars, as long as you don’t do anything crazt like flash your social security number on national television or anything.
      The good news is that once the lady realizes what she really did she’ll probably have a heart attack and die. No harm, no foul, see?

      • Blueskylaw says:

        “Lifelock guarantees your identity won’t be stolen for up to and including one million dollars”

        So if my identity is stolen through no fault of my own, they will pay me up to $1,000,000 dollars? That still doesn’t explain what the guarantee means, but it is worded in such a beautiful way as to make you believe that they will pay you $1,000,000 dollars.

        “The CEO of Lifelock, Todd Davis, became famous for advertising his Social Security number on television ads and billboards promising his $10 monthly service would protect consumers from identity theft.

        The company also offered a $1 million guarantee to compensate customers for losses incurred if they became a victim of identity theft after signing up for the service.

        But the Federal Trade Commission said Tuesday that the claims were bogus (.pdf) and accused Lifelock, based in Arizona, of operating a scam and con operation. The commission announced, along with 35 state attorneys general, that it had levied a fine of $12 million against the company for deceptive business practices and for failing to secure sensitive customer data. Of that amount, $11 million will go to refund customers who subscribed to the service. Consumers will receive a letter from the FTC and their attorney general explaining how to take part in the settlement”


      • aikoto says:

        No they don’t. The only way you get paid is if you can prove they didn’t do what they promised they would. The money is not related to actual identity theft (at least, last I checked).

    • wombats lives in [redacted] says:

      I think she needs life alert at this point. Help my credit’s fallen and I can’t get it up.

  2. acw123 says:

    Old lady 1 says to old lady 2 at DNC: “You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious.”

    Old lady 2 didn’t listen.

  3. kevinroyalty says:

    wont be a problem as soon as Obamacare kicks in, she’ll be culled by the overseers. problem solved. :)

  4. lonestarbl says:

    Ha, noticed that as soon as it happened last night. Oopsie

  5. Not Given says:

    I want the number off my medical records

  6. JollySith says:

    The tone of the post seems to blame the TV crews for this. Doesn’t the blame fall squarely on the shoulders of the person who saw a TV camera and chose to wave her personal info in the lens. You are at the DNC, you paid your way in, you don’t have to waive anything to show your support.

    • hexx says:

      I agree. The woman holding up her card is to blame. Although having watched it on CNN, I can say they chose to keep the camera on her not once, but twice. So they are partly to blame too.

      • tomok says:

        Typically on events like this all the networks take the same feed. They use their cameras for their own hosts and the actual event footage (speakers, crowd shots, etc.) are handled by one news outlet who then shares that feed with all the other news outlets. And it rotates between the different major networks. It’s a way to reduce costs and conserve resources since they’re all there for the same thing. So typically there is no difference between that sort of footage between networks. If she waved her card on CNN then she most likely waved it on Fox, NBC, ABC and CBS too.

    • LabanDenter says:

      when your on the left.. its never your fault. You didn’t build (or show that card), some one else did that for you.

  7. zandar says:

    Man, what does it say about the weakness of the system to realize *just knowing someone’s number* is a security hazard. That’s probably a more pressing need than anything on either party’s platform right now.

  8. AcctbyDay says:

    It is neither the DNC’s fault or the networks fault. The moron waved her social security number on national television.

    Her fault.

    • dru_zod says:

      I agree that it is her fault. She should have known better than to be waving something like that around. However, the director of the broadcast didn’t have to take that particular shot to put on the air. If they had seen someone waving private body parts around, would they have put that on the air?

      Okay, bad example. Yes, they would have.

      • lyontaymer30 says:

        I’m pretty sure a pair of titties would stick out more than someone’s ss card. And who would really think someone is dumb enough to waive the ss card like that? And are people seriously still trying to blame anyone but her?

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        But the DNC was broadcast live. He probably went to (for example) Camera 2, which was aimed a the camera, and the lady started waving her card. The director probably wasn’t focusing on what was on screen, but the timing so he could switch back to the speech.

      • Caddyshack says:

        ” the director of the broadcast didn’t have to take that particular shot ”

        What? I didn’t you know you had ESP? The rest of us do not so please inform the director next time.

  9. Lyn Torden says:

    We just need to stop using SSN. Problem solved.

    Each agency will issue their own number through a central agency that connects all the numbers for the same person together. The government will still be able to track you, but the rest of the world (big corporations, id thieves) will be much more limited this way.

  10. samonela says:

    “How do you know you’re watching television with a Consumerist editor?”

    I was half paying attention…

    I think you just answered your own question :)

  11. Citizen, not Consumer says:

    The real issue here is: why do we tolerate the insanely insecure financial industry practices that allow anyone to get credit in your name if they know your SSN? The SSN is not a password, and we should not tolerate industry using it as a password.

    Nothing will change until we demand change.

  12. momoftwokids says:

    Our drivers license numbers used to be our social security numbers (Yes Idaho, I am talking to you).

    Those were also the days when you wrote checks at the grocery store and they WROTE YOUR DL # (SOCIAL SECURITY #) on the front of the check to show that they had indeed checked your ID.

    Scary ain’t it?

    • giax says:

      Scary indeed.
      But – wouldn’t work for me. The SSN card or the letter with it when it was sent, asked specifically to NOT carry it in wallet with you. So I don’t. I also don’t remember my SSN, so if I’ll need it, I’ll have to check it home and then get back to where I needed it. (and e.g. doctor’s office won’t have it – if my visit is covered by my health insurance, there’s no reason for them to possess my SSN).

      • Greg Ohio says:

        If every medical provider doesn’t have your SSN, how would they send you to collections when your insurance decides not to pay? Because, anything else would be socialism.

    • Caddyshack says:

      But writing a SS# on a check meant little because most often we did this in our immediate towns and the checks were cashed at the local bank. We were not a homogeneous society 30 years ago which the internet has made us to be. There was no internet to display the SS# number to millions at one time and there weren’t any folks in Europe veiwing your personal data while you lived in BFE, Montana waiting to rip you off. Times have changed.

      And no it ain’s scary. It’s all based on proper perspective.

  13. ancientone567 says:

    Thank God she had LIFELOCK!!

  14. Budala says:

    Isn’t the DNC just a collection of people smart as her? Saw a bunch of videos of people making fun of them, like they would support a law to ban a corporation from making a profit, or the one guy who said he would only say redneck to a redneck, or the one woman saying she would kill Mitt.

    • MMD says:

      Have you seen the videos making fun of the lunatics at the RNC as well?

      Neither party has a lock on fringe crazies. But most thinking people wouldn’t ascribe that craziness to the whole party.

    • hexx says:

      You obviously didn’t watch the RNC convention then, because they all but burned the President in effigy.

      • Greg Ohio says:

        My favorite from the RNC was the guy wearing a hat made from a beer carton. What ticks me off is that it was the same beer (Yuengling) that I drink.

    • Kuri says:

      Heh, there were two white guys at the RNC throwing peanuts at a black camera woman saying “This is how we feed the animals”

      Both sides have complete fucking nutjobs who don’t seem to grasp thinking.

  15. hexx says:

    I saw this live on CNN. The camera panned to the audience and the woman was holding up her card. The CNN camera did not immediately move off it, but instead tried to zoom out and unfocus so that you could not read it. But here’s the kicker. CNN flipped back to her minutes later!!! She was still holding it out for all to see, and CNN still did not move the camera off immediately.

  16. akronharry says:

    I will purchase LIfe Lock as soon as I get my new email address at xxx@reagan.com for only a small monthly fee. It will also show that I am a proud and intelligent American.

  17. Press1forDialTone says:

    Instead of suggesting what could be done to help this poor
    woman who probably didn’t know any better, we make this entire
    thread a commercial of useless (that’s another story) LifeLock service.

    Shame on all of you.

    I sent a email to some DNC figures that might be able to help.

  18. aikoto says:

    Obviously she needs to freeze her credit reports just like everyone else. Once this is done, the risk of ID theft goes way, way down.

    See this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=67KjApiH6Ec

  19. trifool says:

    When you send money to the IRS they ask you to include your SS number.

    It is sad when the government require you to write it down on every check.

  20. olesoj says:

    That is called redistribution of wealth.