Protect your identity, please. As identity theft rises in all states, especially in Texas today, citizens are asking “Why me?” Why should I be worried about it? Well, that is an interesting question which those in the Lone Star State are asking. Just this week, the State Comptroller’s office in Austin has announced that for the past year there has been a breach of the personal information of 3.5 million people were left exposed by the agency on a computer server accessible to the public.
The answer to the “Why Me?” question is simply that these people, whose Social Security numbers and other personal information have been up for grabs by identity thieves have had absolutely no control over whether or not their identifying information has been stolen or not. Those people whose files have been transferred by the Texas Workforce Commission, the Teacher Retirement System of Texas and the Employees Retirement System of Texas to the unsecured computer server are all in jeopardy of being victims or identity theft.
As a retired teacher in Texas, I am among these potential victims. The problem was discovered on March 31, 2011 and today, April 13, 2011, the agency is sending out letters to inform the 3.5 million people of their misfortune. The cost of this mailing is reported to be $ 1.2 million.
The Texas attorney general’s office and FBI are investigating the breach as a possible criminal matter! They must think is a crime! Of course it is a crime! Some comptroller employees were fired.
Why me? Well, I taught school children in Texas and, when the time was right, I retired. I trusted the Teacher Retirement System of Texas which has complete personal identification information about me. How could I have prevented this problem for myself? Beats me.
The Comptroller, Susan Combs has established a toll free phone line to respond to the incident. They report that they can take no more than 19,000 calls per day. The lines are open 24/7, they say. I wonder if I should call that line. Maybe by June I could get an answer! The letters begin to be sent through the mail today. I wonder if it is in alphabetical order or by agency or when I can expect my letter to arrive.
The cost of this call center is reported to be $ 393,000. The agency is not paying for credit monitoring for those whose information was exposed.
Well, at least I have a locking security mailbox. I wonder what kind of information will be in the letter I receive.
Just yesterday, I received in the mail a form to fill out. It contained my personal information. Whoever stuffed the envelope which contained the form also included the form and personal information for another person. Luckily for her I am an honest person and not an identity thief! I contacted the office who sent the form and shredded the other woman’s form.
Why me? Why you? Good luck to anyone in this precarious position. It is sad to think that we have locking security mailboxes, take outgoing mail to the postal drop box, shred our personal information , do our banking online, monitor out credit reports and lock up documents that must be preserved and now are still in danger of having our identities stolen.
Jane Hercules, MS Ed is an expert in the prevention of mail theft and mailbox vandalism. She is a teacher and long-time advocate for children. She believes that in today’s world there are measures adults must take to secure the well-being and future of their families. Identity theft is increasing and there are ways to prevent it.
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