PORTLAND — The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office exposed the Social Security numbers of approximately 180 people when it began using a new computer program to distribute arrest lists to the public and media outlets Tuesday.

The new software was programmed to automatically send electronic copies of the department’s recent arrests to area media outlets and post the information on the department’s Facebook page. Social Security numbers are considered sensitive personal information which can be used to access private accounts or in cases of identity theft.

“The software update inadvertently listed the Social Security numbers of approximately 180 individuals who were arrested between Aug. 27, 2012, and Sept. 4, 2012,” the sheriff’s office stated in its announcement Thursday night. “The error was discovered within 45 minutes of the initial posting and was immediately removed. It is believed that during that brief time, that approximately 70 people had access to the Social Security information.”

The sheriff’s office went on to state that the software update has been customized so that it does not disseminate Social Security numbers.

A phone call placed to the sheriff’s office Thursday evening seeking more information was not immediately returned.

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