Driving into work yesterday morning, I heard something incredible–Texas Teacher Retirement System confidential information for 1.2 million educators had been left unencrypted on an Internet server for anyone to download. What?!?
The Comptroller’s office is mailing letters beginning Wednesday, April 13, 2011 to all individuals who may have been affected by the exposed personal information. The three data files were on a separate server and no tax or treasury systems or information were compromised in any way. The ERS data file was sent to us in May 2010 and had information on about 281,000 names, the TRS data file was sent to us in January 2010 and had about 1.2 million names, and the TWC file was sent to us in April 2010 and had about 2 million names. Our office is working with the agencies involved to provide additional details on who may be potentially impacted
That potentially means that my mother’s, my wife’s and my information is out there…and while it doesn’t come as a surprise that our confidential information is being leaked out, it’s an act of adding insult to injury as Texas school educators are demoralized, under-funded, and ripped apart by Texas State Legislators. Of course, there’s probably no connection between the State Budget and the educator confidential information being left on a server for anyone to pick over, like buzzards over a dead raccoon wrapped around itself in a barren glen.
The Texas Comptroller’s Office has announced that personal information relating to a large number of Texans was inadvertently disclosed on an agency server that was accessible to the public. Records of about 3.5 million people were erroneously placed on the server with personally identifying information, including files from Texas Workforce Commission, the Employees Retirement System, the Department of Public Safety, and the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS).
As required by state law, TRS securely transferred records of 1.2 million education employees and retirees to the Comptroller’s Office in January 2010 for that agency’s internal use as part of the unclaimed property verification system. The Comptroller states that there is no indication the personal information was misused.
The TRS records contained names and mailing addresses of individuals. They also included Social Security numbers and dates of birth. According to the Comptroller, all numbers were embedded in a chain of numbers and not in separate fields.
The Comptroller’s Office has set up an informational website for individuals at www.TXsafeguard.org to provide additional details and recommended steps and resources for protecting identity information.
Beginning Tuesday, April 12, the Comptroller’s Office will activate a special toll-free phone line, (855) 474-2065, for individuals to call. The line will be open 24 hours a day for the first week. The Comptroller’s Office will also mail letters to all affected individuals beginning on Wednesday, April 13.
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