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From: Dissent (Dissentpogowasright.org)
Date: Fri Mar 30 2007 - 06:37:01 CDT
In the weeks after three laptops went missing from a Los Angeles
County Child Support Services office, officials sent letters to
243,000 clients in Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties,
warning that their personal information including Social Security
numbers might be at risk.
The computers were stored at the secured Child Support Services
Department headquarters in the City of Commerce but went missing
sometime during the weekend of Feb. 24, officials said. One of the
laptops, which sat in a docking station on an employee's desk, was
ordinarily used by a staffer to access client data in the
department's regional computer system.
The agency locates divorced parents who are delinquent in providing
financial support to their children. It also establishes paternity
and collects and distributes child support payments to families.
An investigation by child support officials found that the missing
computers probably contained fewer than 1,000 records. But the
department notified all 243,000 people potentially affected by the
breach so they could take precautions to protect their private information.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department is investigating the
incident as an apparent theft.
"We really had questions about whether we should send the letter, to
be honest," said department director Philip Browning. "The likelihood
of somebody being able to use that information for identity theft is
so remote, it seems like an abundance of caution."
The potentially compromised last names and Social Security numbers of
an estimated 275 Los Angeles County child support clients, plus 600
from Orange and San Diego counties, were the most serious concerns,
Of the 243,000, about 130,500 Social Security numbers most without
names attached could be compromised, said Al Brusewitz, the
county's chief information security officer. About 12,000
individuals' names and addresses could be made available, and more
than 101,000 child support case numbers could be affected.
Agency officials stressed that sensitive information is almost always
saved to the department server rather than on computer hard drives.
"There is a very strong possibility that there was no personal
information of any of our paid participants in the laptops," said
department special assistant Lisa Garrett.
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