Just in case you weren't already concerned about the two recent leaks of personally identifying information from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the National Guard announced that former and current members of the Army National Guard may be affected by a separate loss of security of personnel information.
Major Earl Brown, a spokesperson for the National Guard Bureau, stated "All current and former Army National Guard members since 2004 could be affected by this breach because files containing personal information was inadvertently transferred to a non-DoD-accredited data center by a contract employee."
The data includes the soldiers' names, full Social Security numbers, dates of birth and home addresses.
"The National Guard Bureau takes the control of personal information very seriously," Brown said. "After investigating the circumstances of these actions, and the information that was transferred, the Guard has determined, out of an abundance of caution, to inform current and past Guard personnel that their Personally Identifiable Information (PII) was among the files that were transferred."
It is important to understand that this was not a theft of data by an outside party, decreasing the chances that it will be found and used maliciously. It was simply a mishandling of data files. While that is still a big deal, it is not as serious as an outside attack.
The National Guard Bureau has set up a webpage and a toll-free call center to help figure out what to do about the situation.
The website is http://www.nationalguard.mil/Features/IdentityTheft.aspx. The website contains information about how to check your credit report, how to protect your personal information (ironic, huh?), and who to tell if you believe that any fraudulent activity has occurred as a result of this data leak.
The call center will be taking calls from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday. The telephone number is 877-276-4729. The call center employees are prepared to provide information similar to that available on the website.
As always, identity theft is a big issue. Keep an eye on your accounts to quickly detect if anything odd has occurred due to the recent incidents, or due to any other type of data theft or other issue.