State Data Breach Potentially Exposes 1.6 Million Washingtonians’

The Washington State Auditor’s office announced yesterday that a third-party provider it uses to transfer files, was breached. This potentially exposes the personal information of 1.6 million Washingtonians who filed for unemployment between Jan. 1 to Dec. 25, 2020, and possibly others.

Possible compromised information may include names, Social Security numbers, driver’s licenses, and banking information. More information has been posted by the State Auditor’s office here.

This is a worrisome burden for the potential victims, thousands of whom already had false unemployment claims filed “on their behalf” by fraudsters last year. And, with tax season underway, compromised information can be used to file fraudulent tax returns.

Credit unions are trusted financial partners and can help members take steps to protect themselves.

Anytime is a good time to share this information. Members appreciate vigilance as credit unions look out for their financial well-being. Whether they are potential victims of Washington State Auditor’s third-party breach, or of another cybersecurity attack, there are important steps credit unions can share.

Sound Credit Union has provided helpful tips for members. It’s a great example of website messaging credit unions can post. NWCUA is here to support Northwest credit unions and their members.

Below are messages credit unions can send to their members, which can be customized by adding links.

Protect Your Financial Identity and Credit History

  • Sign up for [Credit Union Name and link] Online Banking.
  • Set up alerts that notify you of account transactions. Contact us immediately if any transactions appear to be suspicious.
  • If you have credit cards or accounts with another financial institution, monitor those as well, and notify the provider if you detect suspicious activity.
  • Monitor your credit. Each of the three major credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) offers a free annual report once a year. More information can be found at annualcreditreport.com or by calling 1-877-322-8228.
  • If you do not have upcoming large purchases, such as a home, consider placing a fraud alert or credit freeze on your credit reports. This can prevent criminals from obtaining credit in your name. This service is free, and you can do it yourself. More information can be found here.
  • If you have been the victim of a fraud, file a local police report. Then, file a short report with the Federal Trade Commission.
  • Consider setting up an IRS account. If you do so using your Social Security number, it will prevent criminals from establishing an account using your identity. You may also lock your Social Security number, which can be done here. 
  • Keep your notes. The paper trail may become a useful resource should you face identity theft issues or inaccuracies in your credit report in the future.

The more that local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies are aware of fraud reports, the more resources they will dedicate to pursue the perpetrators.

Please contact David Curtis, NWCUA Director, Compliance Services, with questions.

Posted in Fraud Alert.