Several hard drives were among equipment and other items stolen during a recent burglary at the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) regional office in Tukwila.
The hard drives contained agency files that held sensitive data, including personal information relating to some current and former L&I employees, their dependents, and other individuals who had business with L&I in recent years.
The hard drives held agency files which may have contained personally identifiable information of people who have had business with that specific regional office location and some L&I employees' and dependents' personal information. The information may include Social Security or other identification numbers, financial or payment account numbers, email addresses and/or passwords for online accounts, dates of birth, and, in limited circumstances, medical or health insurance information.
L&I has no indication that the stolen hard drives or the information on them has been misused in any way, or that the information on the stolen drives has been accessed.
What L&I is doing
Out of an abundance of caution, L&I has activated a call center to answer questions and provide resources to individuals who may be involved. The agency is offering free credit monitoring and identity theft protection to those who:
- Have filed a complaint, question, or other form with the L&I Tukwila office.
- Have been involved as a witness or subject of a case with the Tukwila office of L&I's Division of Occupational Safety & Health.
- Have been involved as an employer or employee in a claim made to the L&I Tukwila office related to unpaid or inappropriately paid wages.
- Are or have recently been L&I Tukwila office employees or dependents.
- Are or have recently been L&I employees with a supervisor in Tukwila, or those employees' dependents.
- Have had other business with the L&I Tukwila office.
The call center's phone number is 1-833-940-2302. The hours of operation are 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pacific time, Monday through Friday (excluding federal holidays).
The burglary is being investigated by the Tukwila Police Department. After closing for a few days to clean up and make needed repairs after the March 28 break-in, L&I's Tukwila office is back to normal operations and L&I facilities and information technology managers are reviewing physical and information security at all L&I offices.
L&I has also brought on a Special Assistant Attorney General with expertise in data security incidents to advise the agency on the best process for determining the scope of the involved data and number of individuals and entities who may be involved.
Washington state agencies have put together additional helpful resources for individuals who are concerned their data may have been part of a breach.
- The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions recommends obtaining a free annual credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com, changing your passwords and enabling 2-factor authentication on your accounts, and monitoring for unusual activity, among other things.
- The Washington State Attorney General's Office website also compiles resources and guidance for privacy protection and identity theft.
We remind you it is always advisable to be vigilant for incidents of fraud or identity theft by reviewing your account statements and free credit reports for any unauthorized activity over the next 12 to 24 months. You may obtain a copy of your credit report, free of charge, once every 12 months from each of the 3 nationwide credit reporting companies. To order your annual free credit report, please visit www.annualcreditreport.com or call toll free at 1-877-322-8228. Contact information for the 3 nationwide credit reporting companies is as follows:
- Equifax, PO Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374, www.equifax.com, 1-800-685-1111
- Experian, PO Box 2002, Allen, TX 75013, www.experian.com, 1-888-397-3742
- TransUnion, PO Box 2000, Chester, PA 19016, www.transunion.com, 1-800-916-8800
If you believe you are the victim of identity theft or have reason to believe your personal information has been misused, you should immediately contact the Federal Trade Commission and/or the Attorney General's office in your state. You can obtain information from these sources about steps an individual can take to avoid identity theft as well as information about fraud alerts and security freezes. You should also contact your local law enforcement authorities and file a police report. Obtain a copy of the police report in case you are asked to provide copies to creditors to correct your records. Contact information for the Federal Trade Commission is as follows:
- Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Response Center, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20580, 1-877-IDTHEFT (438-4338), www.ftc.gov/idtheft
Fraud alerts and credit or security freezes
Fraud alerts: There are 2 types of general fraud alerts you can place on your credit report to put your creditors on notice that you may be a victim of fraud — an initial alert and an extended alert. You may ask that an initial fraud alert be placed on your credit report if you suspect you have been, or are about to be, a victim of identity theft. An initial fraud alert stays on your credit report for 1 year. You may have an extended alert placed on your credit report if you have already been a victim of identity theft with the appropriate documentary proof. An extended fraud alert stays on your credit report for seven years.
To place a fraud alert on your credit reports, contact one of the nationwide credit bureaus. A fraud alert is free. The credit bureau you contact must tell the other two, and all three will place an alert on their versions of your report.
For those in the military who want to protect their credit while deployed, an Active Duty Military Fraud Alert lasts for 1 year and can be renewed for the length of your deployment. The credit bureaus will also take you off their marketing lists for pre-screened credit card offers for 2 years, unless you ask them not to.
Credit or security freezes: You have the right to put a credit freeze, also known as a security freeze, on your credit file, free of charge, which makes it more difficult for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name. That's because most creditors need to see your credit report before they approve a new account. If they can't see your report, they may not extend the credit.
How do I place a freeze on my credit reports? There is no fee to place or lift a security freeze. Unlike a fraud alert, you must separately place a security freeze on your credit file at each credit reporting company. For information and instructions to place a security freeze, contact each of the credit reporting agencies at the addresses included above.
You'll need to supply your name, address, date of birth, Social Security number and other personal information.
After receiving your freeze request, each credit bureau will provide you with a unique PIN (personal identification number) or password. Keep the PIN or password in a safe place. You will need it if you choose to lift the freeze.
How do I lift a freeze? A freeze remains in place until you ask the credit bureau to temporarily lift it or remove it altogether. If the request is made online or by phone, a credit bureau must lift a freeze within 1 hour. If the request is made by mail, then the bureau must lift the freeze no later than 3 business days after getting your request.
If you opt for a temporary lift because you are applying for credit or a job, and you can find out which credit bureau the business will contact for your file, you can save some time by lifting the freeze only at that particular credit bureau. Otherwise, you need to make the request with all 3 credit bureaus.
The Washington Department of Labor Industries is located at 7273 Linderson Way SW, Tumwater, WA 98501 and can be reached via telephone at 360-902-5800.
For more information, please see these questions and answers.