April 29, 2009
Here we go again with another stolen laptop story….
When I entrust my personal information to a government agency, in return, I expect them to keep it confidential and protect me. Maybe you feel that way, too. Identity theft is real and we don’t need the government giving hand-outs to identity thieves.
Unfortunately for half a million residents of Oklahoma, they’re just flat out of luck. An Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) employee had her work laptop stolen from her car while she was running an errand on her way home from work.
According to the Chronology of Data Breaches, this laptop had 500,000 names, SSN, dates of birth and addresses for over a million of their clients who receive benefits from the DHS. The computer was password protected but the information wasn’t encrypted.
The ‘officials’ in charge of this say risk is minimal. I guess that’s easy to say when it’s not your information and credit at risk.
What I can’t understand is why an employee needs to take a laptop home that has that kind of information on it. With a million identities, it’s like carrying around a bag full of cash and at the very least should never be out of eyesight of employee who is using it.
No matter how careful you are with your information, you’re only as safe from identity theft as the security of the institution that has it in their files. Judging by the number of breaches from government agencies, universities, colleges and corportations, your info isn’t even remotely safe.
Everyone: If you haven’t put a fraud alert on your credit files, please do it now. You’ll need to remember to renew it every 90 days. It works very well and is free. If you want to take an extra step and freeze your credit files, you can do that, too, but it will cost you a bit of money and time.
Go here to read about Fraud Alerts vs Security Freeze .