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Financial Advice

Prioritize Your Security


Are You Affected by the U.S. Government OPM Data Breaches?

By Remar Sutton, Consumer Spokesperson

In June and July the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announced two separate data breaches that exposed the personal data of current, former, and prospective Federal employees, contractors, and family members. Those affected include individuals (particularly from 2000 and after) who were seeking certain government jobs and who had applied for a background check. Overall, the breaches may affect as many as 25.7 million people.

According to the OPM news release, the stolen information includes Social Security numbers; residency and educational history; employment history; information about immediate family and other personal and business acquaintances; health, criminal, and financial history, and other details. If you or a family member belongs to a potentially affected group, here are steps you can take to protect yourself. Even if you are not affected, staying vigilant and taking steps to protect your personal and financial information is important

What is the OPM Doing to Help?

The OPM has sent out notifications to those impacted by the breach announced in June. As of late July, the OPM website indicates that the agency has not yet sent out notifications for those affected by the July announcement. The notices will contain information about identity theft monitoring and restoration services in which you will automatically be enrolled and instructions for enrolling in other services.

What Can You Do?

Whether you are affected by these breaches or not, you should remain vigilant. Many data breaches at many organizations don’t make the headlines or even the news. Even though breach notification laws exist, notification can take some time. So be proactive.

  • Review your account transactions and statements regularly, which will allow you to spot unauthorized transactions quickly.
  • Take advantage of your annual free credit reports by requesting a different one every 4 months. That can help you spot identity theft and correct any errors. You can also setup fraud alerts on your accounts at the credit reporting agency which will make it harder to open new accounts.
  • Online, change your passwords regularly and use a unique password for each account.
  • Watch out for phishing scams.

If You Become a Victim of a Data Breach

If you become a victim, these articles detail steps to take to help you recover.

For More Information

Information about OPM Cybersecurity Incidents includes a description of what happened, how you may be affected, what you can do, what OPM is doing to help, and frequently asked questions.

OPM data breach – what should you do? - from the FTC provides a checklist that lists what to do right away, what to do next, and other steps.

The FTC has many Identity Theft resources including information on what to do if you are a victim and how to protect your identity.

The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse has fact sheets, alerts, videos, and quizzes about Identity Theft and Data Breaches.