Texas Government Exposes Personal Data Of 3.5 Million People

AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM) – Several state agencies exposed the personal information of 3.5 million Texans last year, including Social Security numbers.

The information was visible to the public for 15 months, the Texas Comptroller’s office said, from January 2010 until March 31, 2011.

Although the information was exposed in early 2010, the Comptroller’s office first acknowledged the exposure in a news release just today. “There was a lot of personal information,” explained R.J. DeSilva with the Comptroller’s office. “I mean it was names and addresses and there were also Social Security numbers and then uh, to varying degrees it also contained dates of birth or drivers license numbers.”

The agency says the information was exposed by the Teacher Retirement System of Texas, the Texas Workforce Commission, and the Employees Retirement System of Texas.

The data was exposed when those agencies were transmitting it to the Comptroller’s office.  As part of the transfer it was placed on a state server that was accessible to the public.

“We can’t emphasize enough how much we regret that this mistake happened,” said DeSilva. “It was human error that led to this.”

State rules require files that contain personal information to be encrypted, according to the Comptroller’s office.  The exposed information was not encrypted, the agency says.

The Comptroller’s office says there is no evidence that any of the personal information was misused.

In the statement, Texas Comptroller Susan Combs said, “We take information security very seriously, and this type of exposure will not happen again.”

Combs also says beginning Wednesday, April 13, her agency is sending letters to each person whose information was exposed.  The agency has also posted more information about the steps it is taking. You can also contact them toll-free at 1-855-474-2065.

The Comptroller’s office says it is working with the state Attorney General to investigate the exposure.

If you believe you have been a victim of identity theft the Better Business Bureau of Fort Worth advises you to:

• Place a fraud alert on your credit reports with each of the three credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion
• Close the accessed accounts
• File a police report

The Federal Trade Commission maintains a website with information on what to do if you think you have been a victim of identity theft.

Comments

One Comment

  1. Mascha Taylor says:

    Thats just great, what are the charges and what type of law suit can we file, because Lord knows if one of us Texans would have done that we would go to jail! Look folks this is a crime against us and our privacy! When will it stop?!

    1. 2sister says:

      I doubt that any charges can be filed, but the employees who were involved need to be fired. The law suit, however, is a different story. I don’t know, however, if anybody would get much money, because the state is having financial woes.

  2. Rob says:

    Great first teachers lose jobs and then because of this someone wipes out their retirement account. All thanks to our wonderful state government. Thanks

    1. SHERON HOLT says:

      WHO SAIDD THEY COULD WIPE OUT YOUR RETIREMENT ACCOUNT?

  3. Michael Brown says:

    OK, now that personal information has been exposed. Who is being held responsible for this????? Will there be any criminal charges filed. Will the burned of some one else’s mistake fall on my shoulders, if my data has be comprimised????

    1. 2sisters says:

      I doubt they can file criminal charges unless someone purposely did it so that a friend or the actual clerks could use the information. They can, however, fire those involved. Also, I guess people could sue those involved in civil court, but they would probably first have to prove that someone stole their identities because of this.

  4. scott says:

    The state should pay for credit monitoring services for those effected for 1 to 2 years. If nothing happens within that period of time, you are probably safe. The state would be able to get it at a huge discount, for bring in 3.5 million new customers to the monitoring service.

  5. Josh says:

    I liked how they actually put in the quote “and then uh.” It really makes them look more stupid.

  6. thebunnycooker says:

    How did an “error” of this magnitude go undetected for 15 months? Seriously, was anyone doing their job correctly?

  7. Mascha Taylor says:

    It is amazing of the ignorance in offices today, but didn’t some of you put them there? Once again, start at the top of the list with Perry and let’s work our way down to make Texas better, like it used to be!

  8. Lamanda Summers says:

    I’m doing a state report on Texas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Comments are closed.

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