March 29 2010|12.00 PM UTC

Jonathan Rivers

Identity Theft Breach Impacts Possible 3.3 Million Students

Category: Credit, NewsTags: , , ,

In another sign for the need of better security and privacy policy control for any company handling sensitive data, Educational Credit Management Corp., a nonprofit guarantor of federal student loans has reported a major theft of “personally identifiable information” involving a staggering 3.3 million students after a break-in last weekend at its Oakdale, Minnesota headquarters. As of date, this may be one of the largest-ever breach of private personal information and could effect as many as 5% of all federal student-loan borrowers.

The stolen data includes names, addresses, Social Security numbers, and dates of birth of borrowers, but no financial or bank account informations were stolen. The data stolen were stored on a “portable media” device. If you were potentially one of the 3.3 million borrowers that had your data compromised, you should be expecting a letter from ECMC soon, which will include an offer of free credit monitoring and protection services from Experian (look for a sign-up code in the letter).

Those with questions about whether they are affected by this data theft can:

You should note that no misuse of the data has been reported to date (though to be fair, this data theft has only recently occurred a week ago).  In the provided Experian credit protection service, you’ll receive access to certified ID theft specialists and ID theft insurance.

Despite steps you can take individually to protect yourself from identity theft, there is little we can do when our information is compromised whether due to carelessness or randomly stolen hardware that may contain our information.  Here’s hoping that this particular data breach won’t lead to subsequent, serious misuse of data for the 3.3 million student-loan borrowers.

photo credit: B_Rosen

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