Identity Theft of Transportation Dept
There was a time, in popular movies, where the
criminal would be rescued by his gang members.
Now, however, we have lived to see a laptop
liberated (stolen) from a government vehicle
by the bad guys instead.
The stolen laptop, belonging to the federal
Department of Transportation inspector
general's office contained the highly sensitive
personal information of over 100,000 (133,000)
residents of Florida.
Once again, unencrypted personal data prized by
identity thieves was not only placed on a portable
laptop computer, but it was transported in a
vehicle far less secure than just about any
corporate data center.
That laptop data involved in the identity theft
- Social Security Numbers (ssn)
- Dates of Birth
- Pilot's Licenses
- Driver's License
Any reasonably capable identity thief or credit fraudster
will be able to easily use this rich bounty of personal
information to quickly open up new accounts and
charge illegal purchases while leaving their unsuspecting
victims financial future in ruins.
As part of the typical pattern of "after the fact" spin,
the Transportation Department issued the usual
apologies and press releases promising to do better.
"We regret this matter and take our
responsibilities seriously," Zinser wrote.
"We have taken action and will continue
to take steps necessary to prevent this
from happening again."
Excuse me, but had the Department of Transportation put
even half of that energy into these two simple preventative
steps, the lives of over 100,000 individuals would not be
in sudden peril:
- No unencrypted personal data leaves secure data centers ever
- No laptops are left in an unattended vehicle ever
However, just as Ernst & Young and other organizations we've
helped to expose this year as having slopping data handling
practices, the Transportation Department is now the latest
in a highly likely continued sad string of "stolen"laptops
containing consumer information.
How much do you want to bet some of these "stolen"
laptops may very well be inside jobs?
Want to gain back some degree of protection
against these data mishaps which needlessly
put you or your family members at risk?
Our tip for today, then, is twofold. First, for the innocent
victims of identity theft caused by the Transportation Dept.,
contact any of the three major credit bureaus to get your
free fraud alert placed immediately. Secondly, you
can also contact the Transportation Department's toll
free phone hotline to get any assistance you will require
for the mountain of legal paperwork, hassles from debt
collectors, and phone calls you'll make to creditors.
That hot line number is 800-424-9071.
Know someone else who you can share this episode with?