FRANKFORT KY - Attorney General Greg Stumbo warns Kentucky state employees to be on guard about potential identity theft following a recent Personnel Cabinet health insurance mailing which displayed employees' name and complete social security numbers through the envelope window.
Stumbo is calling on the Personnel Cabinet to notify state employees that they are at risk of potential identity theft and provide the employees information on how to protect themselves.
"It was irresponsible to disclose employees' social security numbers in this way," Stumbo said. "The social security number is the key that unlocks many doors for identity thieves. With that information, an identity thief has access to a host of information about consumers. The Personnel Cabinet has put our state employees at an increased risk of ID theft and I call upon the Cabinet to immediately cease all such mailings and to notify state employees whose information has been compromised so that they can protect themselves."
The Attorney General's Office has Identity Theft prevention information on its website at: www.ag.ky.gov/consumer. Click on the link for 'Identity Theft,' The information includes an 'ID Theft brochure,' 'Tips for Victims,' a link to the website where consumers can receive their free annual credit report, the 'ID Theft Victim Kit,' and other information.
The Attorney General's Office drafted legislation that was introduced in the 2006 regular session of the Kentucky General Assembly that would have protected against this type of disclosure. House Bill 4, sponsored by Rep. Robin Webb, passed the House of Representatives but was not enacted by the Legislature.
It would have required a state agency to only collect and use Social Security numbers if necessary to perform the agency's duties. The bill would have specifically prohibited the disclosure of Social Security numbers on a mailing, either outside, as if on a postcard, or otherwise visible without the envelope being opened.
"I will be working with the General Assembly to pass this bill again in the upcoming 2007 Session," said Attorney General Stumbo.
The Attorney General's Office offered the following tips to avoiding ID theft to state employees:
* Review your bank and credit card statements as soon as you receive them.
* Order a copy of your credit report annually and check it carefully. You are entitled to a free copy once every 12 months. Call 1-877-322-8228 or go online to www.annualcreditreport.com.
* Always take your credit card receipts.
* Never give bank or credit card information over the phone unless you initiated the call and know the business.
* When ordering by phone or online, use a credit card rather than a debit card.
* Don't email personal or financial information.
* If you get an email or pop-up message that asks for personal or financial information, do not reply or click on the link in the message.
* Shred or destroy any personal identifying documents before disposing of them.
* Secure personal information in your home.
If a state employee thinks someone has stolen their identity, they should act fast:
* Place a fraud alert on your credit reports and carefully review them. To place a fraud alert, contact one of the national credit bureaus: TransUnion at 1-800-680-7289; Equifax at 1-800-525-6285; and Experian at 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742).
* Close any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
* File a report with local law enforcement.
* Keep a log of whom you speak with and when. Keep copies of all letters and documents.
* File a compliant with the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-ID-THEFT or online at www.consumer.gov/idtheft.