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This content was published: August 12, 2010. Phone numbers, email addresses, and other information may have changed.

ID theft is potential threat following theft of personal information

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A car owned by an employee of Portland Community College was broken into on Thursday, Aug 5. Among the stolen items was a data-storage device containing the names and Social Security numbers of an estimated 2,900 Multnomah County participants in the Oregon Food Stamp Employment Transition Program, also known as OFSET.

“We have sent out letters to all of the participants,” said Wing-Kit Chung, college vice president for administrative services. “So far, there is no indication at this point that any of the personal information in question has been accessed by anyone outside the college.”

The program provides support services and job-search training for unemployed Oregonians. It is sponsored by the Oregon Department of Human Services and is served by PCC. The college has taken the lead in informing the program participants.

An article has been posted at www.pcc.edu with further information for participants. The article includes contact numbers for credit-monitoring agencies and information regarding a credit-protection service PCC is offering to the participants of the program. Further information is available at www.pcc.edu/incidentresponse.com

The employee whose car was broken into was working at two PCC locations and was transferring information from one site to the other when the theft occurred.

“PCC takes its responsibility to protect private information seriously,” Chung said. “We are working to limit the use and availability of personally identifiable information.”

Letters have been sent to the people whose names were on the data storage device. The letters include the following information:

“A report has been filed with the Portland Police Bureau. The police report number is 1064265.

“Since we cannot guarantee that your data has been secure, we are advising that you may want to take measures to help prevent and detect any misuse of your information. The following steps are widely encouraged by information technology and financial professionals for your protection:

  • Monitor your financial accounts carefully, and if you see any unauthorized activity, promptly contact your financial institution. Look for inquiries from companies you haven’t contacted, accounts you didn’t open, and debts on your accounts that you can’t explain.
  • Place a “Fraud Alert” or a “Credit Freeze” on your credit reports, and review the reports carefully. The three nationwide consumer reporting companies have toll-free numbers for placing an initial 90-day fraud alert; legally one agency must report to the other agencies, so one call is enough.  If you are victim of identity theft or have reported the theft of your personal identifying information to a law enforcement agency, there is no fee to you.
    • Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
    • Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742)
    • TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289
  • Placing a fraud alert entitles you to free copies of your credit reports. A fraud alert is a signal placed in your credit report to warn potential creditors that they must use what the law calls “reasonable policies and procedures” to verify your identity before they issue credit in your name.
  • Oregon law allows Oregon residents to protect themselves from the possibility of identify theft by placing a credit freeze on their credit files. By placing a freeze, you can prevent anyone who fraudulently acquires your personal identifying information from using that information to open new accounts or borrow money in your name. For detailed procedures, go to the Oregon Dept. of Consumer and Business Services at http://www.dfcs.oregon.gov/id_theft.html and click on “Security Freeze.”
  • If you find that you are a victim of identity theft, report it immediately to law enforcement and the FTC. Your report helps law enforcement officials across the country in their investigations.
    • Online: ftc.gov/idtheft
    • 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338) or TTY, 1-866-653-4261
    • By mail: Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, Washington, DC 20580

“PCC takes its responsibility to protect private information seriously and continues to work diligently to limit the use and availability of personally identifiable information. That includes regular training for PCC personnel and communications with our attorneys and law enforcement officials. Staff members are held accountable for any actions that occur outside of established protocols.

“To assist in protecting your identity, PCC is offering to you, at no cost, for one year, Debix Credit Protection. This product provides:

– Comprehensive credit file monitoring of all three agency credit reports

– Immediate actionable Credit Alerts by phone

– On call investigator if an attack occurs

– Fraud recovery service and $1,000,000 in identity theft insurance coverage

DebixCredit Protection will be contacting you directly as to how you can sign up for this credit protection service.”

About Dana Haynes

Dana Haynes, joined PCC in 2007 as the manager of the Office of Public Affairs, directing the college's media and government relations. Haynes spent the previous 20 years as a reporter, columnist and editor for Oregon newspapers, including ... more »