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State Website Exposed 202,000 Social Security Numbers

Programming Error Blamed

News for Public Officials Aug-15-06

RICHMOND --  In an advisory dated August 8th, 2006, Ken Schrad, Director of Virginia's Division of Information Resources announced that the State's Bureau of Insurance Website published the Social Security numbers of every insurance agent licensed in the state.

According to the advisory, "The SSN was not shown on any web page, but a savvy computer user could have found it using the source code tool of a web browser."

Access to the agents private information was caused during an upgrade to the Bureauís Website feature that allows the public to look up agency and agent information. This online feature is specifically designed to allow consumers to check whether an agency or individual is licensed in Virginia.

Access to the private information of 202,000 Virginia agents would have been possible from June 13 through July 31, 2006. The Bureau corrected the programming error the same day it was discovered.

According to the Bureau, during the six-week period, the level of agent inquiries was not unusual and involved less than 15 percent or approximately 30,000 of the agents may have been exposed.

The Bureau is advising agents as a precaution. Agents may wish to take steps to protect their personal privacy which include obtaining a their credit score or checking for any unusual activity on their bank or other financial accounts.

Licensed Virginia Insurance agents should submit claims for this privacy breach to attorneys who specialize in this type of case.



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