Jack Wagoner said he’ll turn in the form from the water company, but he’s not giving them his Social Security number.

“No, no, no, no. Bull,” the 69-year-old longtime city water customer said. “My Social Security number is between me, God and my banker.

“I will give them my driver’s license number because I put that on my checks, but they’re not getting anything else — even if they turn my water off.”

Sherry Alessi, the assistant city treasurer, said Thursday that the city sent out the forms “just to update our information.”

She also said there’s no deadline for turning in the forms, which ask for a lot of personal information about everyone in the household who is 18 or older — even if their names are not on the account.

Alessi also said that some elderly residents have expressed concern about providing that information to the utility department.

In actuality, people of all ages, incomes and occupations are expressing concern.

Brian West, who specializes in computer safety, e-mailed the News-Capital Friday that “I’m 31 and far from elderly and very concerned about this ... Just because they say only five people will have access to this info how can we trust that? Can that server/work station be hacked? Stolen? The answer is yes.”

The e-mail continued, “I work in (Information Technology) and I know for a fact the only secure computer is one that is turned off, locked up and not connected to anything.”

In a phone call with the News-Capital Saturday morning, West said “They have all the information they need. That’s my view on it. My form is still sitting on my desk. My neighbor wadded his up and threw it in the trash.

“I think they’re asking for way, way too much information. They say only five people will have access to this information, but the hard drive could be stolen, and everybody’s identification would just be out there.

“And, anybody with physical access to the computer could run off with any of the data. In this day and age you can’t trust anybody.”

Wagoner agrees. “To me, this is about as bad as the federal government trying to listen to telephone conversations,” he said. “I’m all for that if it’s needed. There are some things we need to give up as far as freedom, but I feel strongly about this.

“They can cut off my water before I give them my Social Security number. I don’t care. They’re not going to get that information.”

Wagoner said he “hit the fan” when he saw the form. “This has really got my dander up,” he said. “And as far as them asking for phone numbers of other people, they can reach me on my cell phone 24 hours a day. They don’t need to bother my neighbor or other people if a water line breaks.

“As far as all those numbers they want, that’s just not right. Somebody could retire or get disgruntled and quit and take those numbers with them. I’m not saying they would, but you never know.

“These numbers should not be in some computer for computer hackers and dishonest people to get.

“I don’t want my bank account cleaned out. I’m 69 years old. I don’t want to have to start all over again.”

Both men said they are customers in good standing and can’t understand why, after so many years, they are being asked to provide so much personal information.

Neither Alessi or City Manager Mark Roath were available by phone Saturday.

Contact Susan Brittingham at 421-2029 or e-mail sbrittingham@mcalesternews.com.

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