Hey. What’s a little identity theft when you can do it big-time? Why be a piker about it?
My beloved part-time, parsimonious employer, the Maricopa County Community College District, sent out a notice to a large number of its 8,000 employees and 2.4 million students to the effect that thanks to a couple of underpaid and under-competent IT workers in HR, a potentially vast amount of personal financial data has been breached. After dark on Friday evening, when of course it was too late for me to start calling financial institutions, I received a form letter from Chancellor Rufus Glasper reporting that “we determined that your…name, address, phone number, e-mail address, Social Security number, date of birth, financial and bank account information, certain demographical [sic] information, information related to your employment, education and training…may have been accessed.”
They’ve been emphasizing that this is a maybe situation.
But how did they find out about this? From the FBI, that’s how: last April, the feds found a website selling information kiped from the District’s HR records.
Did you catch that? Last April was seven months ago. They’ve known about a major data breach for seven months and are only just getting around to sharing this little tidbit of information.
So the only “maybe” about this is that “maybe” some of us will be able to protect ourselves by shutting down every bank and credit card account in our names and slapping iron bars around our credit bureau accounts.
They’ve hired some outfit called Kroll Advisory Solutions to do “continuous credit monitoring and enhanced identity theft consultation and restoration.” This company’s web page is inaccessible — apparently their servers have crashed, no doubt under the onslaught of tens of thousands of MCCD employees and students trying to get on. But when you call the phone number the District provided, the people you reach haven’t a clue. All they can tell you is that there “MAY” have been a breach. When asked exactly what their company does, they don’t have an answer. So that multimillion-dollar contract appears to be window dressing.
Started making phone calls about 8:00 this morning and was on the phone — or on hold, or stumbling through interminable punch-a-button mazes — most of the day.
Fortunately, thanks to the PF blogging, I happened to have a number that would reach a human at Experian. It proved impossible to get past the robots at TransUnion and Equifax, but on the advice of Experian’s fraud expert, I managed to set up “security freezes” at all three credit bureaus.
A security freeze, as it was explained by to me, means that no credit reports can go out, no new credit cards can be opened, no nothin’ can happen without your going into the site, entering a PIN, and lifting the freeze, temporarily or permanently. This state of affairs can be left in place forever and aye, if you so please. Two of the credit bureaus gave me PINs over the phone, but one is sending it by snail-mail.
All Arizona college faculty and students are eligible to join my beloved credit union. Evidently every one of them was doing the same thing I was doing: frantically calling customer service. So, getting through by phone to a person there took over six hours. When I finally reached a CSR, she said they’re advising people to close their accounts and open new ones. That is going to create a monster hassle, since my bookkeeping includes a busy tangle of automatic deposits and payments. Including, of course, paycheck deposits from the college district.
I’ll be damned if I want said district to have yet another bank account number for me. So tomorrow when I’m on the campus, I’m going over to HR and asking them to send my paychecks by snail-mail, thank you very much.
Off and on for the past couple of years, I’ve been thinking it would be good to move my money out of that credit union over to a different teachers’ credit union, which has a branch much nearer to my house. Right now every time I have to go up to my CU in person, it costs $3.00 to $3.60 in gasoline, since that branch is way to hell and gone out at the Great Desert University’s west campus, in a part of town where I have exactly zero other reason to venture. This other outfit’s branch is on my beaten path, making it possible to get banking chores done while I’m doing the grocery shopping.
Lacking all three credit-bureau PINs, though, that may not be possible. I sure don’t want to close the same bank accounts twice. So if I’m to move to a more conveniently located institution, I may have to wait on closing those accounts until after the third PIN shows up in the mail. Which, as usual, will be after dark.
This is infuriating. I don’t know what else to do… There doesn’t seem to be much else to do, other than bob around in the water like a sitting duck waiting for whatever’s coming to hit me upside the head. If ever there was good cause for a class action suit, this sure as hell is it.
If you have any other ideas for self-defense, lemme know.