Social security numbers easily found for those who file for bankruptcy

(WJLA) - A little web surfing is all it takes for us to find out a lot about Sandra Garvey.

"What you showed me -- it's way too easy to find out information, way too easy," she says.

It was easy for us to find Garvey's social security number, as well as the numbers for many others – and the issue is particularly serious for those who have filed for bankruptcy.

Anyone who has filed has the last four digits of their social security numbers publicly posted by the federal courts – the rest you can find using internet resellers.

Virginia attorney Jason Gold is one of hundreds of bankruptcy trustees appointed by the courts. Because he digs into the financials of people who file for bankruptcy, he can legitimately use the various sites that complete the missing digits of social security numbers put out by the feds.

"It's very important that we verify the identity of the person who is filing for bankruptcy," he says.

However, not everyone who is searching for social security numbers on the web is legitimate – and there are plenty of sellers to service them and help them cobble together the numbers.

We used a website that requires membership and a security check, but not all of them go that far in terms of security.

A 2006 Government Accountability Office report states that more than 50 websites were willing to sell social security numbers in pieces. They also suggested a standard for abbreviating them, but that has yet to happen.

Now, people like Sandra who are at risk, in addition to attorneys like Jason, want action.