The Virginia Bureau of Insurance says it made all Virginia insurance agents’ Social Security numbers accessible to the public this summer.
The bureau accidentally included 202,000 agents’ Social Security numbers with the agents’ Web profiles from June 13 through July 31.
Visitors who simply looked at the site in the usual way would not have noticed the Social Security numbers, but users who chose the “view page source” option on their browsers could have seen the Social Security numbers, officials say.
The bureau took the Social Security numbers off the Web July 31, the same day the bureau found out about the problem, officials say.
“The inadvertent access to an agent’s SSN was caused during an upgrade to the bureau’s Web site feature that allows the public to look up agency and agent information,” officials say. “This on-line feature is specifically designed to allow consumers to check whether an agency or individual is licensed in Virginia. It also shows the insurance companies to which an agent has been appointed to offer and sell their products.”
The bureau has converted to a new national numbering system to track agents, but it has been testing the new system by comparing it with the old system, which used Social Security numbers, officials say.
During the period that the agent Social Security numbers are accessible on the Web, “the level of agent inquiries was not unusual and involved less than 15% of the more than 202,000 agents on the system,” officials say.