In the meantime, my original source E-mailed me with another example of a Social Security number that he had obtained through the Justice Department's site. He sent me a link to a PDF court document that revealed the Social Security number of a man accused of insurance fraud. I searched on the Justice Department's Web site using the accused man's name and was led to the PDF court document. I also searched for the information on Google and Yahoo and was delivered to the same document. Then, I went back to the Justice Department's main Web page and searched for "ssn." That led me to find even more Social Security numbers.
My hope is that, through the publication of my article, this problem will be remedied and that other sites will re-evaluate their own content for private information that can be used to commit identity theft. I still have no idea how someone got my debit-card information (the card never left my possession and the purchases were actually made at a Toys 'R' Us store, not online). Ultimately, I got my money back when the bank compared my signature with the fraudulent signature. It was a very stressful four months and an experience I don't wish for anyone else to share.
On a lighter note, Happy Holidays to all of InformationWeek's readers. I wish you all the best in the coming year.