If you have ever gotten a traffic ticket in Shreveport, your file is probably at Shreveport City Court. The records are kept in the Clerk of Court's office and are available to the public through computer databases.
Last week however attorney and consumer rights advocate David Szwak found something he should not have. "I noticed that there were a number of records that immediately displayed people's social security numbers," Szwak said. Our Trouble Shooter Alexis Wiley decided to check it out herself.
Monday morning, on a computer in the Clerk of Court Civil division, she discovered names and social security numbers listed in the public database; just as Szwak did. "If someone finds out it's there," Szwak said," and I just happened upon it, word will get around particularly in the criminal arena."
When Alexis brought it to the Assistant Clerk of Court's attention, she had no idea that computer was displaying social security numbers and immediately had it fixed. But, why were the numbers there in the first place? "For those people who selected yes to allow their social security numbers to be on their driver's license, when they received a ticket that number became part of the public record," Bill Whiteside, Shreveport City Court systems manager, said. However, Whiteside also says the court installed programs on every public computer to block social security numbers two years ago. "How is it that you installed that system two years ago and as of 30 minutes ago I found social security numbers?" Wiley asked. "We have three public access computers, two didn't show social security numbers and the other one did," Whiteside said.
He says the glitch could have been caused when that computer crashed two weeks ago and an old version of the program was installed. Whiteside says the problem has been fixed. Yet, how many people stumbled upon social security numbers that they should not have? We will most likely never know.