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TEXAS SIZED DATA LOSS MEANS TEXAS SIZED ID THEFT PROBLEM

The Texas State Comptroller’s office has fired its head of information security and of innovation and technology following a data loss that exposed 3.2 million Texans’ Social Security numbers and other personal information on over 3.2 million people in the state.  Two other employees have also been fired over the data loss incident, according to ComputerWorld.  The Texas Comptroller’s Office hired Gartner and Deloitte to review its existing information security controls and policies and to recommend any needed changes.

In addition, the state has also negotiated a 70% discount on credit monitoring fees with Experian for affected individuals, the statement said.  The measures come in the wake of a recent disclosure by Combs’ office that Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, and names and addresses of more than 3.2 million Texans were inadvertently posted on a publicly accessible Web site for nearly a year.

To compound the mistake, personnel in Combs’ office then put the information onto a server that was accessible to the public and left it there for an extended period, without purging it as required, the statement said.

The mistake was finally discovered on March 31, more than 10 months after the files were put on the server. Since then, public access to the files have been shut off and the data itself been removed from the server. The exposed information was “embedded in a chain of numbers and not in separate fields,” the statement noted.

On one hand, the Comptroller’s  Office stated their was no evidence the personal identifying information had been misused, while on the other hand Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott warned Texans of a fraudulent call received by a state employee following the data loss

The phone scams may be the first wave of the identity theft attacks from the data loss.  Invariably, based on the size of the data loss, millions will be exposed to a greater risk of identity theft.  Despite discounted credit monitoring, most of those affected by the data loss will be at risk for identity theft for the rest of their lives because of the longevity of our Social Security numbers and dates of birth.  While you cannot change your date of birth, you can change your Social Security number.  However, it is not an easy task to accomplish with the Social Security Administration.

I talked with a Texan this week who called the breach notification hotline and confirmed he was on the list.  His concern was not with unauthorized access to his accounts, but the possibility of someone using his identity to get a job.  He has reason to be nervous.  When an identity thief takes your identity for employment purposes, the wages earned are reported to the IRS.  You better hope the thief pays “your” taxes, or the IRS will come a’knockin! 

HAVE YOU RECEIVED A BREACH NOTIFICATION LETTER FROM THE STATE OF TEXAS?  IF YOU HAVE, THEN YOU MAY BE AT RISK FOR ID THEFT.  CONTACT IDENTITY THEFT PROTECTION LAWYER MICAH ADKINS FOR A FREE ID THEFT INFORMATION KIT.