An array of personal information that can be used by identity thieves is freely available on the website of Secretary of State William Galvin, who recently criticized Governor Deval Patrick for failing to protect information about voters on his campaign's site.
Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, home addresses, and phone numbers can be viewed with a few clicks, and Galvin said yesterday he doesn't plan to immediately remove the information because he's launching a software program to start the process within weeks.
"It's totally unacceptable that they are contemplating leaving it up," said Betty Ostergren, a Virginia-based privacy advocate. "Once they realize it's a veritable treasure trove, identity thieves will flock to it. They need to shut the links down."
Galvin refused to do so.
"This is standard practice in the business world," he said. "It's necessary for commerce. There are people who are reliant upon this system."
Galvin's office maintains tens of thousands of records of commercial borrowing by Massachusetts residents.
Such Uniform Commercial Code filings are necessary when a person puts up collateral to secure a loan.
Among the records are details for purchases ranging from furniture to farm machinery. Social Security numbers were used on UCC filings between 2001 and 2005, Ostergren said.
The information is put online to make it easier for lenders to access it.
There is no security, though, to prevent anyone else from viewing the information.
A quick check yesterday by The Associated Press showed names, addresses, and other personal information for various Massachusetts residents.
Galvin recently complained the Patrick campaign committee website made it too easy to find out the information about voters, including police officers trying to conceal their home addresses.
Patrick spokesman Kyle Sullivan had no immediate comment.