H&R Block Mails Customers Their Own SSNs... On The Outside Of The Envelope

from the oops dept

Tax prep firm H&R Block is apologizing today for sending out copies of their tax preparation software to customers, while using customers' social security numbers as part of the tracking numbers found on the package. The social security number was apparently mixed in as part of a 47-digit tracking number, leading H&R Block to claim that it would be virtually impossible for identity theft to result from this mishap, as it would be quite difficult to decipher which digits within the 47 digits were the SSN. It's not clear, however, from the story if it was the same set of digits in each tracking number. Still, it does raise serious questions about how the company is using supposedly private SSNs for other purposes.
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  • identicon
    Andrew Strasser, 3 Jan 2006 @ 5:54pm

    We're all stamped with numbers for a reason.

    Just one small instance of a company doing this sort of thing to keep better track between software programs by using the same number.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Jan 2006 @ 6:55pm

    does it even matter?

    Meanwhile millions of people are entering all their information in online job applications.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    jdragon, 3 Jan 2006 @ 8:27pm

    The outsourced this task

    It bet it was packed by an offshore outsourcing plant. Good job, hope you saved a lot of money!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Bob, 4 Jan 2006 @ 12:08am

      Re: The outsourced this task

      Yes I read somewhere that most tax returns of this sort today are outsourced to India, those accountants are probably lucky to get a mere penny to do your return.

      They have no concept of Americans preoccupation with SSN privacy, so it was a non-issue for them, which is likely the reason it happened at all.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Ben McNelly, 4 Jan 2006 @ 6:52am

    preoccupation???

    preoccupation huh... Are you saying it's a bad thing to be concerned about ones SSN? Go ahead and post yours real quick, I can prety much tell you that after a couple days you will understand our preoccupation.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      anonymous, 5 Jan 2006 @ 1:58pm

      they're BLOCKheads!

      Letter is 'dated' December 22 but there is no 'postmark'. I got my (first class mail) January 4th. I have YET to see the (third class mail) package. Can't WAIT to see what the actual thing looks like. Anybody who's interested in grabbing SSN's probably already has enough knowlege about which numbers in the 47 are lickely to be the lucky ones and now knows what to look for. BTW the letter? Mostly an advertisement for H&R Block. Oh oh oh - and I distinctly remember telling them (when they were doing my taxes, that I DIDN't WANT marketing stuff. I've already asked them (via phone) for a rebate for the fees I paid them - and I'm backing it up with a certified letter cc's to my attorney general.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jan 2006 @ 9:38am

    No Subject Given

    Companies often obscure sending a full SSN by using asteriks to cover all but the last few digits. Woudldn't knowing a few digits in the 47 digit mess give you exactly what you need?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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