OPM data breach could potentially affect more than 21 million - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

OPM data breach could potentially affect more than 21 million

(Photo source: File) (Photo source: File)

Wednesday afternoon, Attorney General Jim Hood warned Mississippi residents about a recent data breach that could potentially affect more than 21 million people nationwide. 

According to Attorney General Hood, a U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) personnel file breach involved career and personal information on 4.2 million former and current federal employees. At least 21.5 million people who applied for, or had, security clearances renewed since 2000 were also affected.

In the security clearance breach, around 3.6 million of those affected are former or current federal employees; most of the remaining are current or former military or contractor personnel. Officials say around 1.8 million of those affected were not applicants, but had been identified in the application of another person. 

In addition to basic information, the breach also included 'highly personal information, such as past financial or legal troubles, as wells as fingerprints of about 5.6 million people.'

“Data breaches and identity theft continue to cause significant harm to consumers, and full-scale identity theft involving the use of just a Social Security number can cost a consumer $5,100 on average,” said Attorney General Hood. “I am a victim of this hack, too, and I intend to check my credit regularly for at least a decade.” 

OPM will provide identity theft protection and monitoring services to anyone affected by the breach, as well as any dependent children under the age of 18 as of July 1, 2015. According to the release, credit services include identity and credit monitoring, identity theft insurance and restoration for the next three years. 

Consumers who have been affected will be contacted by OPM via mail. Attorney General Hood warns that any notice received via email is likely fraudulent. Services will last through 2016 in the personnel files case, and through 2018 in the clearance files case. 

“We appreciate the OPM for taking action and providing the sufficient tools and services to help consumers who have fallen victim to this scam,” said Attorney General Hood. “Since 2005, nearly 5,000 data breaches have compromised more than 815 million records containing sensitive information about consumers, including their financial account information, Social Security numbers or medical information. The numbers continue to escalate in 2015. Consumers are entitled to check their credit annually at no cost, and regular monitoring is one of the most important ways to protect your credit.”

Consumers who believe they may have been affected, but have not received a notice, can call 800-750-3004 or visit www.opm.gov/cybersecurity. 

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