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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Personal Data Breaches--Your Private Information--Are Still Rampant

1 Million Data Breaches in the Last 60 Days

That’s right. One-million records of personal information have hit the street in the last 60 days. They’re out there for the taking and don’t fool yourself, the ID thieves are becoming more sophisticated every day. They can outwait you to steal your identity, and cause complete chaos in your household. As an example, the original February 2005 ChoicePoint breach of 163,000 names initially produced 800 actual data thefts. That figure is now up to 1,400—a 75 percent increase—according to the Federal Trade Commission.

The Latest List of Breachers

Starting back in late October, The Sisters of St. Francis Health Services, which operates ten hospitals, lost compact discs with Social Security numbers and more sensitive data on 260,000 patients, as reported by A medical billing contractor copied the data and then lost it in a store. Dumb, but see how easy it is.

And then a USA Today account in early November about how Starbucks lost 4 laptops with Social Security numbers and more on 60,000 employees—over 40 percent of their workforce—missing from a closet in the Seattle corporate office. It took several weeks for the workers to find out what happened, a more than adequate period for the crooks to swoop down. No report yet on actual theft, but, again, the bad guys know to wait for the right moment.

In Pennsylvania, thieves stole computers from a driver’s license center containing dates of birth, drivers’ license numbers and full and partial Social Security numbers on over eleven thousand people. The crooks apparently disabled a “quite complex” security system, again, according to

But the big one was at UCLA in Los Angeles when a hacker broke into a campus computer system, affirmed in another article. One of the largest ever in higher education, 800 thousand students, faculty and staff were alerted that their sensitive data including Social Security numbers and birth dates, was in jeopardy.

In all of these cases, the victim’s name and address were also part of the information stolen.

Two Recent Bizarre Forms of Data Breach to Look Out For

The state of Utah mistakenly exposed the e-mail addresses of kids on their “Do-Not-Email List. Marketing stated that “Proponents of the registry had claimed that it was foolproof.” ID Theft 101: No database is foolproof. Even the data that is supposed to protect against intrusion is somehow accessible.

The other breach is much more frightening. announced that federal agents recently raided several U.S. meatpacking plants to round up illegal aliens who obtained jobs by stealing the identities of American citizens. This means that your private information now has a new pipeline where it can be sold through smuggling operations that fully realize the value of this sensitive data.

Make Your Move Now

Join me! Let the new Democratic Congress know that you want something done about this on their watch. Contact: Senate; House of Representatives.

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