Personal Information of 4,900 State Workers Compromised
As many as 4,900 current and former employees of the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) may have had their personal information exposed in the latest data security breach involving state workers. The news comes two months after the Texas Comptroller announced that the personal information of 3.5 million employees was potentially compromised.
DARS is not releasing much information now on how the breach may have occurred or exactly what type of information could have been leaked. A statement from the Health and Human Services Commission - which oversees operations of all agencies in the state’s health and human services system - says that's because they want “to avoid interfering with the law enforcement investigation or putting employees at further risk of identity theft.”
But the agency has begun notifying employees, and is encouraging them to sign up for fraud alert services. The incident is under investigation by the Health and Human Services Commission. The breach was also reported to law enforcement.
Here’s the complete news release from the state:
The Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) today began notifying up to 4,900 current and former employees that their personal information may have been exposed in a data security breach. The DARS commissioner received notice just after 2 p.m. Thursday of a possible data breach and took immediate steps to secure the information and to notify the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC). The HHSC Office of Inspector General is now investigating the incident, which also has been reported to law enforcement. DARS sent an e-mail to current employees today notifying them of the incident, and the agency soon will begin calling former employees whose information may have been exposed. The agency is encouraging employees to sign up for credit fraud alerts and is providing employees with time at work to do that. Employees who worked for DARS, the former Texas Rehabilitation Commission, the Commission for the Blind or the Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing may have had their personal information exposed. HHSC is working to provide employees with access to free credit monitoring services, and DARS is setting up a hotline for current and former employees who have questions. The agency is not releasing additional details about the incident at this time to avoid interfering with the law enforcement investigation or putting employees at further risk of identity theft.
Neal O’Ferrall, the executive director of theIdentity Theft Council, told KUT's Mose Buchele that all those security breaches add up. “Just on data breaches, the last five years, over about 500 million personal records have been exposed," he said.
Just to be clear, the US population is only about 313 million. You do the math and it's safe to assume you're already a victim of I-D theft. So experts advise: carefully monitor your credit report, and watch where you make your information available.