OR: State mistake puts personal data at risk

Alan Gustafson reports:

Sloppy handling of confidential records by a state agency in Salem left people’s names, Social Security numbers, ages and addresses exposed in an open recycling bin outdoors.

The blunder by the Housing and Community Services agency put low-income, elderly and disabled residents at risk of becoming targets of identity theft or other abuses.

In a separate security lapse by another state agency, confidential records with the names and Social Security numbers of former state parks and recreation employees landed in the same recycling bin.

Read more on StatesmanJournal.com. The report indicates the names of assisted living facilities whose residents had their details in the recycling bin. As to the parks department, it seems to be denying some of the problem:

Computerized data sheets with employment information about dozens of parks and recreation employees were found in the recycling bin. The forms had employees’ names, job titles, pay amounts and performance appraisal dates, but they didn’t have Social Security numbers or other types of personal information.

Agency officials said the employment-data records didn’t require shredding and were properly discarded in the recycling bin.

However, other forms found in the bin had the names and Social Security numbers of six former parks and recreation employees.

The news story also provides an update to another exposure breach reported previously on this site:

The Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services issued a cease-and-desist order against insurance agent Robert Warren Spruill for violating the identity theft protection act and the Oregon Insurance Code.

It was the first case enforced by the state under the ID theft protection act, which took effect in early 2008.

Officials said Spruill, owner of Brooke Auto Insurance and Brooke Agency Services Company LLC, placed more than 1,000 insurance business records in a dumpster behind the agency’s Portland office. The documents contained clients’ personal information, including client names, Social Security numbers, drivers license numbers, bank account numbers and credit card numbers.

The state fined Spruill $11,000, with $8,500 suspended as long as he complies with the order.

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