This past March, the Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES) reported that a company called JobLink, a database management company, suffered a data breach. The company maintains a web-based system that links job-seekers with employers. JobLink is utilized by 10 state governments, including the state of Arizona. DES director Henry Darwin said those affected should have been notified by the company.
The total number of records exposed in this breach is not known, but it is potentially huge. The personally identifying information (PII) stolen included names, Social Security numbers and birth dates. This information could and will be used by criminals for purposes of identity theft. The compromised PII of those affected will surely be listed for sale on dark underground websites.
Any resident who used the Arizona Job Connection website www.azjobconnection.gov to apply for a job, needs to know what immediate steps they should take to protect themselves. Actually, these recommendations pertain to anyone who suspects that they may be a victim of identity theft.
A criminal who has access to someone’s name, Social Security number and birthdate can open an account and obtain credit in your name. So, the first thing to do is to place a Credit Freeze. You must do so by contacting all three of the credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian and Trans Union. There is a $5 fee per person, per credit bureau, to place the freeze. A credit freeze literally locks up access to your credit file to everyone, except you. No one will be able to apply for a loan or credit in your name while you have a credit freeze in place.
Since this breach happened back in March, be sure to check your credit report, with all three credit bureaus. You can do so absolutely free by going to this website: www.annualcreditreport.com.
By law, you are entitled to request a free credit report once a year from all three credit bureaus by going to the above mentioned website. Read your credit reports and make sure there are no suspicious accounts opened without your knowledge and always correct any errors immediately in writing.
Lastly, always monitor all of your credit cards and other accounts on a regular basis.
Linda Vitale is a Surprise resident on a mission to empower and educate the public about Scams, Fraud and ID Theft. Get her book Scam Me Once, Can’t Get Scammed Again at www.amazon.com.