Privacy policy relating to social security numbers

The City of Fort Worth requests that a person opening a water utility service account provide his or her social security number to the utility but does not require a social security number as a condition of obtaining water service. The purpose of this policy is to address the collection, use, protection, access to and disposal of social security numbers.

Collection of personal information

The water utility requests the name, address, telephone number, driver license or ID number and social security or Tax ID number from each person who opens a water utility service account (which serves to collect amounts due for water, wastewater, solid waste, stormwater, environmental protection fee and the like). Such information can be obtained from the customer in person or by phone, mail, email or fax.

How and when personal information is used

A social security number is requested from the applicant when seeking to obtain a water utility service or sometimes when securing payment for such services.

The request for the social security number is:

 (1)  a means of identifying an individual;
 (2)  for internal verification or administrative purposes;
 (3)  to research credit worthiness; and
 (4)  for debt collection.

How personal information is protected

Social security numbers and other personal information is protected from disclosure by Texas Utilities Code, Sections 182.051 – 182.055, which allows residential customers of government-owned utilities to request that an individual’s address, telephone number, social security number and information relating to volume of usage and amounts billed be kept confidential, with certain exceptions. The form can be obtained online(PDF, 262KB)  or from the Customer Relations Section of the water utility, 908 Monroe St., Fort Worth, TX 76102.

Once the completed request form is received and processed, the water utility will not release personal information, except to the verified party or one of the following entities:

  • government officials,
  • government contractors who need the information to perform their jobs,
  • utility representatives,
  • consumer reporting agencies,
  • individuals for whom the customer waives responsibility,
  • such as an attorney.

In compliance with Section 552.147 of the Texas Government Code, the Water Department retains all personal information electronically and once a social security number is obtained and entered into the electronic database, all but the last four numbers are redacted for display and presentment.

Who has access to personal information

Employees of the Water Department’s Customer Relations Section have access to customers’ personal information, including social security numbers. In addition, it may be shared or confirmed with Police Department and Code Compliance for identification purposes during the course of their execution of duties in compliance with state law.

How personal information is disposed

Any retained paper documents with the social security number are disposed of through off-site shredding per the city’s record retention schedule.