A couple of weeks ago the United States Department of Energy initially announced that its computers had been hacked and personal information on 14,000 employees had been stolen placing these people in serious danger of identity theft. Now the Department of Energy has disclosed that the number of people involved is 53,000. These are all employees or former employees of the Department of Energy whose names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth and other personal information was stolen by identity thieves who hacked into the Department of Energy’s computers during the summer. Although the DOE is providing free credit monitoring services for a year to affected people, this is of little consolation to the victims. Once again, this shows that you are only as safe as the place with the weakest security that holds your information. This is particularly important now as we approach the October first start date of the insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act. Under the Affordable Care Act a data hub of seven different federal agencies will be accessible by insurance navigators who are people who will assist people as they try to find the right insurance policy. This data hub of agencies such as the Social Security Administration, the IRS, the VA and others will provide information to verify eligibility for various discounts, but it also may provide information for identity thieves accessing the data hub for their own purposes. This threat is quite real as the security system for the data hub has still not been fully tested and, as has been shown by the Department of Energy hacking, the federal government still does not do a good job of protecting our personal information.
As much as possible, limit the amount of personal information you provide to any company or agency with which you do business. Don’t leave your credit card on file with Amazon or any other company you regularly do business with. You might also want to consider putting a credit freeze on your credit report so that even if someone does get access to your Social Security number, they cannot get access to your credit report for purposes of making a large purchase using your credit. You can find information about how to put a credit freeze on your credit report here on Scamicide.