MASON CITY — Cerro Gordo County supervisors agreed Tuesday to hire a California company to help guard against identity theft of county employees.

The action is a result of the discovery last month that someone hacked into the county’s account with Shazam, an Internet-based clearinghouse used to make automatic deposits and withdrawals.

Millions of dollars are processed through Shazam but county officials said the breach was discovered before any money was stolen.

The hackers did have possible access to county workers’ identification information because 230 of the county’s 250 employees have direct deposit of their paychecks through Shazam.

On Tuesday, supervisors agreed to hired TrustedID, Palo Alto, Calif., to help employees guard against identity theft as a result of the February hacking.

According to its website, TrustedID provides immediate protection of identities and delivers privacy, security and reputation management services to proactively help protect against future credit and identity theft.

The cost to the county is $93.75 per employee for anyone who wants to use the service.

Administrative Officer Tom Drzycimski said the service will be free to any employee who wants it.

He said the maximum cost to the county will be $23,500. Coupled with legal and consulting fees after the hacking was discovered, total cost could reach $35,000, he said.

In February, after the hacking was discovered, Drzycimski received approval to spend up to $20,000 for employee identity theft protection.

On Tuesday, supervisors agreed to the increased expenses.

“It’s the high cost of prevention,” said Supervisors Chairman Jay Urdahl.

Drzycimski said a letter will go out to all employees explaining the services, all of which are optional and free.

In other business, supervisors approved a blanket embargo, giving the county engineer authority to close roads as needed to make repairs. It is an action taken routinely every year.

County Engineer Mary Kelly said many roads are “severely rutted” because of rain, snow and ice.

On Monday, 130th Street between Raven and Thrush avenues was closed because of rutting, she said.

In further business, supervisors approved the budgets of the Meservey and Swaledale sanitary districts.

The county owns the sewer systems which are operated on fees paid by residents.

“Both will cash flow with the fees being charged,” said Supervisor Bob Amosson.

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