California DMV Data Breach Exposes Drivers Social Security Numbers
Long lines are not the only thing you have to fear at the DMV. According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, thousands of drivers in California have had their Social Security numbers exposed in a data breach that gave federal agencies unauthorized access. According to the Times, the breach also showed which drivers do not have social security numbers making it especially concerning for undocumented immigrants who were issued driver’s licenses. Apparently, federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, had access to this information.
Concerns Over Undocumented Individuals
Notices of the data breach went out to those whose social security information was accessed during the last four years by seven agencies including the Internal Revenue Service, the Small Business Administration, and district attorneys in San Diego and Santa Clara counties. Some of the data were accessed as part of criminal or tax-related investigations. DMV reportedly learned about the issue on Aug. 2. Officials stated that access to the information was then cut off
DMV officials say they have taken additional steps to correct the error, protect the information, reaffirm their serious commitment to protecting the privacy rights of all license holders. This data breach is a particularly sensitive issue because California lawmakers, back in 2013, decided to issue driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants who can provide proof of identity and California residency.
State officials have also promised that information about undocumented license holders will not be shared with federal immigration officials. DMV officials said 88 people who received or applied for licenses without proof of legal status had their information accessed during this data breach. Six of those whose information was accessed by Homeland Security had applied for or received a driver’s license without showing proof of legal status. There are more than 1 million people statewide who are undocumented and have been given driver’s licenses in California.
Has Your Data Been Breached?
As more and more public and private agencies and companies count on digitally stored data, breaches have become more likely. Here are some tips for consumers who fear their private and sensitive information may be exposed or stolen:
- Check with the website of the company or agency that was breached for the latest information.
- Consider putting a credit freeze or fraud alert on your credit reports with the three major credit reporting agencies. This will prevent anyone from accessing your credit report or scores. This means you cannot apply for new credit without lifting the freeze.
- Be sure to monitor your credit cards, statements and bank accounts for any unauthorized activity.
- Be cautious of scammers who may pose as a retailer, bank or credit card company. Phishing emails may attempt to fool you into providing your personal information. Do not fall into the trap.
If you have been the victim of a data breach, you may be able to file a class-action lawsuit against the company or agency that failed to guard your data. An experienced consumer rights attorney can help you better understand your legal rights and options.