Update 01/3/2012: I now recommend the free, open source AESCrypt in lieu of AxCrypt/NCrypt as a simple, easy to use cross-platform encryption tool. Find out more here.

Source: Direct Message vi Twitter received after this post went live.

Earlier today, since I was home sick, I decided to activate my free identity theft protection:

The Comptroller’s Office has arranged for one year of FREE credit monitoring for anyone affected by the recent data breach. You only have 90 days to sign up, starting Friday, April 29th.
Here is a link to the press release:

You may recall I wrote about this recently, sharing the breach of confidential data for 1.3 million educators and employees in Texas schools. After setting my mobile phone on redial–using a free Android app I downloaded for that purpose–I was finally able to through on the phone to complain that my 82-year old mother couldn’t get her account setup.

I was successful in signing my wife and I up for the free credit monitoring, though. Below is the screenshot of the form you have to fill out:

Another Texas educator and blogger shares this point in an email to a private email list:

Pulling a free credit report every three months is smart. But it is not the same as credit monitoring. Damage can be done in those three months that becomes difficult to undo the longer it goes unnoticed.
With credit monitoring, you can find out more quickly if questionable activity is occuring. The particular credit monitor the Comptroller has chosen also will watch known sites for trading stolen information and alert you if yours pops up. That is something none of us as individuals can do effectively.

It may only be free for a year, but it can’t hurt to take advantage of it for that period of time. Then individuals can decide if they think it is worth continuing to pay for.

However… I think ultimately the state will be paying for us to monitor our credit for the foreseeable future. Sadly, it may take someone’s information being misused, but the first time that happens and it can be traced back to this fiasco, all heck is going to break loose.

Some additional information I gleaned from txsafeguard.org this morning – basically anyone who was in the TRS system active, retired, or otherwise, prior to January 2010 is at risk. Here is their list of
whose data was compromised: http://www.txsafeguard.org/data_grid.php
Just because you did not get a letter does not mean you are safe. It is my understanding that the letters were mailed at a bulk rate, and letters mailed this way cannot be forwarded. I heard a postal carrier on local radio say they had trashed hundreds of the letters that could not be forwarded.

I encourage everyone to visit www.txsafeguard.org, educate yourself, and sign up for their email updates on the situation. Also, even if you did not get a letter, call the toll free number at 1-855-474-2065 to confirm that you were not affected.

And share with anyone you know who works for or has EVER worked for a Texas school district!

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure