Jan 18 2016

Identity Protection for Those Affected by the OPM Data Breach

Layer 8 Security specializes in improving the cybersecurity posture of companies big and small, but we also strive to protect individuals as well. In keeping with our “sheepdog” mentality, I want to broadcast some important information to individuals affected by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) data breach. If you were not one of the 21.5 million individuals targeted in the widely publicized OPM data breach announced this past June, there is a high chance that you are related to or know someone who was. For this reason, I offer insight on what one can expect to find once they sign up for the identity theft protection available to those affected by the breach.

The U.S. government awarded ID Experts a $133 million contract to provide identity protection for individuals, and their dependent minors/children, whose information was compromised as a result of the data breach. The comprehensive suite of identity theft protection and monitoring services include: identity monitoring, credit monitoring, identity restoration services and identity theft insurance for the next three years.

I received a letter notifying me that my Social Security Number and other personal information were compromised in the intrusion. I promptly enrolled myself in MyIDCare, the ID Experts identity protection program, to access these benefits using the PIN code from my notification letter. Once I created an account and answered several questions to authenticate my identity, I was granted access to my Home Page. The user interface was easy to navigate and provided useful information and a wealth of reporting tools.

Some of the Personally Identifiable Information (PII) that MyIDCare can help monitor are email addresses, social security number, credit/debit cards, bank accounts, driver’s license, passport number and medical ID numbers.

MyIDCare offers an extensive list of monitoring reports that will promptly alert the user of any suspicious activity or when their PII is used. The Social Security Number Trace provides a report of all names and aliases associated with your SSN. If a new name or alias is added, the user will receive an alert. Booking and Court Records Reports monitors arresting agencies and municipal court systems for criminal acts booked under your identity. The user also has access to Cyber Scans, Change of Address Monitoring, Sex Offender Monitoring, Financial Account Takeover Monitoring and Payday Loans Monitoring.

You are also able to view your Tri-Bureau Credit Report from the three national credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion, detailing all past and current accounts, credit history, inquires and public records.

In addition, there is an educational section, which provides “Tips to Protecting Your Family,” that covers such topics as: four common wiring fraud scams, the importance of checking your credit report annually, the difference between a bank and a credit union and obtaining immigration visas.

I would like to think that a lot of these tips were common sense. Unfortunately, if scammers are still currently using these methods then it must be successful on some unsuspecting individuals.  One of the best ways to protect those we care about from these scams is by raising awareness.

Overall, the process took about 10-15 minutes and was well worth the peace of mind. Even if you do not consider yourself to be tech savvy, monitoring PII is an easy step in a layered approach to minimize your family’s risk.  Be vigilant. Be proactive. Be secure. 

You can go to https://www.opm.gov/cybersecurity to view sample OPM Notification Letters. If you are concerned you may have been affected by the breach but never received a letter, you can contact the Verification Center at 866.408.4555.

If you would like to learn more about how Layer 8 Security can make your family more resilient against cyber attacks, feel free to reach out to us at contact@layer8cybersecurity.com.