More and more, it seems, no good deed goes unpunished.
Take the revelation this week by Identity Finder that nearly a fifth of nonprofits between 2001 and 2006 published the social security numbers of donors, scholarship recipients, tax preparers, directors, employees and trustees on their tax returns, which are open to the public.
Identity Finder’s report analyzed sensitive information, such as SSNs, contained in nearly 3 million IRS Form 990 tax returns, which tax-exempt organizations file each year.
Social Security numbers are not required on the form, but Identity Finder found that 132,362 charitable groups published 472,866 SSNs—171,005 of them unique.
Between 2001 and 2006, more than 18% of all nonprofits or their tax preparers published at least one SSN on their public tax return. In all, 287,238 Form 990 returns contained at least one SSN.