Timothy Schoolmaster, a retired Evanston policeman and former president of the Police Pension Fund, spoke before City Council on April 11 to express the “dismay, outrage and anger” of many City employees and retirees about the manner in which the City mailed them a form, a 1095C form, on March 25. Mr. Schoolmaster said he received the mailing and his full social security number was visible through the see-through window of the envelope. 

Mr. Schoolmaster said he emailed the City Manager, the Assistant City Manager, the Deputy City Manager, and the Human Resources Director on March 25 and asked for information about the incident as soon as possible. He said he received no response for more than two weeks. “Up until today [April 11],” he said he saw “no outreach from anyone taking ownership of the problem or the solution.”

Mr. Schoolmaster also said that he had received email comments from many employees who said they had received the mailing in an unsealed or poorly sealed envelope, many with their full social security numbers showing through the see-through window of the envelope. He said hundreds of City employees had been affected by the breach, and added, “We have seen at least one report of some attempt to apply for a credit card based on stolen information.”

He also questioned why the full social security number was included on the form, when the last four numbers would have sufficed.

 David Ellis, a retired Evanston firefighter and a former vice-president of the firefighters’ union, said at a meeting of the Administration and Public Works Committee on April 11 that 700 to 1,000 mailings had social security numbers showing in the see-through window of the envelopes. He said, “There have been some attempts to hijack or establish credit under some of our guys’ names. This is a serious issue for everybody, particularly for people getting their identities hijacked. I would suggest the City look into a life-lock type of thing or something to cover the employees.”

Assistant City Manager Marty Lyons said at the A&P committee meeting, “We just sent a letter to all impacted staff and the letter allows for one-year of security – like life-lock, all impacted parties have one year to sign up.” The security services would monitor an impacted people’s credit to make sure no one is attempting to steal their identity. Mr. Lyons added that the City would like to know of anyone who has had issues with anyone attempting to steal their identity.

Larry Gavin was a co-founder of the Evanston RoundTable in 1998 and assisted in its conversion to a non-profit in 2021. He has received many journalism awards for his articles on education, housing and...