Sensitive personal information on 800,000 California residents lost between IBM and state office

Steven Harmon reports:

In a puzzling breach of security, computer storage devices containing identification information of 800,000 Californians using the state’s child support services have gone missing.

The Department of Child Support Service reported on Thursday the data devices were lost March 12 en route to California from the Colorado facilities of IBM, one of the contractors in charge of the storage devices.

Read more on Mercury News.

From the FAQ posted by DCSS:

1. What happened?

On March 12, 2012, the Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) was notified by California’s Office of Technology Services (OTech) that contracted service providers, International Business Machines (IBM) and Iron Mountain, Inc. could not locate several specialized storage devices.

The devices were in transit from IBM’s facility in Colorado to California. Upon arrival, several devices were missing.

2. When did it happen?

We were notified on March 12th that the storage devices were missing. It was confirmed on March 20th that the devices contained personal information. Since then we have been working to identify the individuals who are possibly affected by this incident. Our primary goal has been to notify everyone as quickly as possible. Letters were mailed to all impacted parties on March 29, 2012.

Okay, but you didn’t answer your own question: WHEN did it happen? And while we’re at it, what transit system was being used to transport the devices? – Dissent


4. What specific items of personal information were involved?

The documents and forms that were on the missing device contained one or more of the following pieces of personal information:

  • Name & Address
  • Social Security Number
  • Drivers License or Identification Number
  • Name of Health Insurance Provider
  • Health Insurance Plan Membership Identification Number
  • Employer Information

The actual information for each participant will vary depending on what forms and documents were processed for their individual case.


Update: Bloomberg News reports that four backup tapes went missing after a “routine disaster-recovery exercise….The tapes are believed to have fallen out of an improperly secured shipping container while in transit.”  Other sources report that FedEx was the carrier being used to transport as Iron Mountain does not fly.

About the author: Dissent

2 comments to “Sensitive personal information on 800,000 California residents lost between IBM and state office”

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  1. Babs - April 11, 2012

    I am one of the VICTIMS along with my Son who are now victims of Identity theft. This impacts your life in ways not even imaginable, such as you don’t exist anymore…me, my son our Social Sec#’s, date of birth, drivers license’s, home address, health care records hippa violations etc., are in somebody’s hands and my take is their intentions are to steel identity and create a massive problem for all of us, the damages at this point are unimaginable to me. Answers and I mean quickly. What do we do? Witness relocation project?? not funny…Security = Big Government = Control = what ever they decide to do with who you are….???? updates are needed! election coming…..????? who is the third party???????

    • admin - April 12, 2012

      When you say you are victims of identity theft, are you saying that your information has already been misused by the hacker(s)? If it hasn’t actually been misused, you are not the victim of identity theft, although your identity information has been stolen and you are now at increased risk of becoming a victim of identity theft.

      Millions of Americans have their identity information stolen and misused every year. Maybe you’ll be lucky and your information won’t be misused, but better safe than sorry. If you have not visited it already, the FTC has some helpful materials for individuals whose information has been stolen. You can read more on their site at

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