Approximately 85 inmates housed at the Vilas County Jail on Jan. 14 had their Social Security numbers and other personal information posted online for about four hours that day, Vilas County Sheriff Joe Fath confirmed earlier this week.
Fath said the information was made public when a new corrections employee posted the wrong report to the county's website.
"We have hundreds of reports in our jail module, four of those reports get posted everyday to our website," Fath said. "We had a new corrections officer who selected the wrong report and posted it. It was up on the website for about four hours."
The sheriff said that the department received a call from a man in Milwaukee who, ironically, is now in custody at the Vilas County Jail, alerting them to the mix-up.
"Apparently, he checks the online inmate report daily," Fath said.
Fath said the information was removed from the website immediately after it was discovered.
As a precaution, Vilas County will pay for credit monitoring for the inmates for one year. All of the affected inmates were sent a letter Feb. 15 explaining how to place a fraud alert on their credit through the three major credit agencies.
"It happened with another department in the county and it was handled in the same manner," Fath said. "All of the people involved were contacted and actually given almost the same letter. It was an accident, it wasn't something intentional. We felt it was necessary to take those steps, make notification and give everyone a heads up."
Fath noted that the inmates involved have yet to report unusual activity related to their credit.
"As far as we know, nobody has taken the steps to start monitoring their (credit) activity," he said.
Fath said some "corrective action" was taken, but the employee who made the error is still a member of the corrections staff. Steps have been taken to ensure such a data breach doesn't happen again, he added.
Jamie Taylor may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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