A number of serious data breaches and identity protection issues made the news this week - from the city of Houston potentially leaking personal information of 1,300 of its police officers and other government workers to 7-Eleven allegedly using stolen identities to cover up the true names of their illegal immigrant workers.
Houston, We Have a Problem
News of Houston payroll contractor Automatic Data Processing suffering a data breach was announced June 18 - an error that could have affected nearly 5,000 government workers. Among the workers that potentially had their personal information leaked, including Social Security numbers, were those from the Houston Police Department, the Houston Chronicle reported. ADP described the breach as a "software code error," and said the risk of exposure is very low. The Houston Police Officer's Union notified the public of the breach, posting a message on its Facebook page. According to the post, ADP is offering Houston city employees a free year of ID theft protection.
7-Eleven Stores Center of Identity Theft Scandal
Nine franchise owners and managers of 7-Eleven convenience stores in New York and Virginia were charged with identity theft, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and concealing and harboring immigrants. The store owners and operators allegedly were using false identities to cover up the true identities of illegal workers, CNN reported. The FBI seized 14 stores suspected to be involved in the identity theft ring. The scheme is suspected to have been going on for more than 13 years, the source said.
Black Market for Medical Records
NBC Bay Area published a report this week about how the news station's Investigative Unit was able to buy 1,000 medical records of California residents from a black market. The records, which turned out to include "surprisingly accurate" information, were purchased by NBC from a man based in Costa Rica who told the news station he got them from someone in India. These records contained information on the doctors patients saw, their past illnesses and what kind of medicine they took, among other sensitive data like names, addresses, and insurance and Medicare numbers. Identity thieves are taking this information and selling it to medical supply companies from around the world, which then scam people into selling them "free services" that later come at a cost.
Yahoo Downplays Potential Security Threat
Yahoo Inc., will begin recycling old user accounts that have been inactive for more than a year. However, some thought hackers who take control of the old accounts may be able to assume the identities of the account's previous owners, Reuters reported. In response, Yahoo defended its plan and said it had various identity theft monitoring safeguards in place to protect against such an instance. Dylan Casey, a senior director for consumer platforms for Yahoo said this was "something we are aware of and we've gone through a bunch of different steps to mitigate that concern. We put a lot of thought, a lot of resources dedicated to this project."
Matt Cullina is chief executive officer of IDentity Theft 911.