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SALT LAKE CITY — The private information of 16 people was stolen in May after a Utah Department of Family and Child Services employee’s vehicle was broken into and copies of identification records needed for background checks were stolen.
The break-in occurred on May 16 in the Salt Lake Valley, according to Ashley Sumner, a public information officer for the DCFS. She said the agency was working with police regarding the break-in.
Sumner said the department’s policy is that copies of identification should not leave an employee’s hands and that protocol was broken when the information was left in the employee’s vehicle.
“It wasn’t HIPAA information or anything like that, but because of the nature of the information, it should never leave the (employee’s) person,” she said. “Obviously, it’s incredibly concerning and there was a big lapse in protocol.”
Chad Mangum, a Salt Lake City resident, said copies of both his and his wife’s driver’s licenses, Social Security cards and home street address were among the documents that had been copied as part of a background check to become foster parents. The background check, he said, was the final step in the process after passing classes.
Mangum said he was informed of the theft on June 1 — two weeks after the break-in occurred.
“For several weeks, we weren’t informed that our information had been stolen,” he said. “They didn’t take any steps to secure our personal information. They didn’t call the credit bureaus or place a fraud alert on our accounts or anything.”
Those whose information was stolen were given two to five years worth of free credit monitoring, Sumner said. She added that the gap between the theft and informing those whose information was stolen still fell within the agency’s window of informing clients of potential breaches.
For Mangum, the frustration comes from the fact that he did everything right in terms of ensuring his personal information was secure.
“I’ve done everything pretty correctly to safeguard my information and then it was someone else’s fault that this happened,” he said. “A secure government-related facility dropped the ball on it. It’s out of my hands — almost like, maybe I should hand out my information to other people on the phone.”
“I’ve done everything pretty correctly to safeguard my information and then it was someone else’s fault that this happened." – Chad Mangum
He’s grateful for the credit monitoring assistance but isn’t sure it entirely makes up for the loss of security.
“When all your information is stolen due to the negligence of someone else, is there an appropriate timeframe that’s long enough?” Mangum asked. “I don’t think there is.”
The matter is currently being handled internally, Sumner said, but she declined to disclose the status of the employee whose vehicle was broken into.
What should someone do if they have their personal information such as their Social Security number and credit cards stolen?
Victims should report any fraud to the Federal Trade Commission immediately either online or by calling 1-877-438-4338, according to USA.gov. The FTC will issue an affidavit that can be taken to local police.
Those documents can then be used as identity theft reports, which is helpful for resolving issues with banks and creditors.