Texas
1:12 pm
Mon April 11, 2011

Personal Information Of 3.5 Million Texans Exposed By Comptroller's Office

Social security numbers, names, mailing addresses and other information of 3.5 million Texans were disclosed on a state computer server that was accessible to the public for about a year.  Comptroller Susan Combs' office issued this apology and explanation.

“I deeply regret the exposure of the personal information that occurred and am angry that it happened,” Texas Comptroller Susan Combs said. “I want to reassure people that the information was sealed off from any public access immediately after the mistake was discovered and was then moved to a secure location. We take information security very seriously and this type of exposure will not happen again.”

Officials in the comptroller's office suggest the information may not have been easy to exploit, because it was contained in a string of numbers and not entered into separate fields, as it would be in a spreadsheet.

The personal information came from 1.2 million education employees and retirees who were listed in a Teacher Retirement System of Texas database. About 2 million records originated from a Texas Workforce Commission database. The remaining 281,000 records were those of state employees and retirees listed in an Employees Retirement System of Texas database. As of 1 pm, none of those agencies' front page websites contained warnings about the information breach. 

Data from those agencies were transferred to a computer server controlled by the Comptroller's office, but were not encrypted as required by state administrative rules, Combs' office said. The Texas Attorney General's office will conduct an investigation.

In the meantime, the Comptroller's office will start sending out notification letters to people whose identities were leaked. The agency has also set up this informational website. Starting on Tuesday, you can call the toll free number 1-855-474-2065 to find out if your personal information was compromised.