13 Names and SSNs Escape from USA Funds, End Up on Geocities.comFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 23, 2008 UPDATED: February 4, 2008
Media Contact: Aaron Titus
INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana. In late November, 2007, the Liberty Coalition discovered a the names, partial Social Security Numbers, and detailed student loan information in a report titled "United Student Aid Funds: ...For the Week Ended 05/08/2004." The report includes information about 13 students or former students who had taken out student loans. Though identified as a United Student Aid (USA) Funds report, the file was posted on geocities.com, by a user named "pvvanitha." The report, named "report_format.doc" was report number "DACBRT05," created on December 10, 2004 by "UFD612R1."
The Liberty Coalition notified several Vice Presidents of USA Funds, and the FBI of the breach. The FBI forwarded the complaint to the Office of the Indiana State Attorney General Consumer Protection Division, which contacted the Liberty Coalition for additional information. No additional action by the Attorney General is known at this time. The Liberty Coalition also contacted Geocities/Yahoo, and got their usual brain-dead responses thanking us for contacting them.
Bob Murray, Vice President of Corporate Communications explained,
"...we have worked with our vendors to have the link to the file removed from Geocities.com. We are in the process of requesting removal of references to this file from Internet archives and search engine caches. We also are attempting to contact the individuals named in the file. In addition, we are conducting an investigation into how this internal file was made public, in violation of our corporate privacy policies.On February 4, 2008 Mr. Murray set up a 1-800 number which affected customers can call for more information: 800-428-9250, ext. 84635.
"We assure you that USA Funds and its vendors take significant steps to protect the personal, non-public information of our customers. You should also be aware that during the past year, USA Funds and its vendors have begun moving away from the use of Social Security numbers to entirely separate customer identification numbers as identifiers for our customer accounts."
According to a Wikipedia article on USA funds, the organization has supported nearly $115.5 billion in higher education financial aid in the last 44 years, serving more than 13.6 million students or parents.
Individuals affected by this exposure should immediately visit www.nationalidwatch.org and search for their names, to confirm what types of personal information were exposed. NationalIDWatch.org has a list of recommended steps victims should take.
National ID Watch is a search engine for personal information breaches. Sponsored by the Washington, DC non-profit Liberty Coalition, NationalIDWatch.org provides more than a million free personalized Identity Exposure Reports™ as a public service.
Each Identity Exposure Report (IXR) documents what types of personal information were exposed (such as Social Security Numbers, Birth Dates, Addresses, etc.), without revealing them. Each IXR also details the situation surrounding each exposure, and contact information of those responsible for the breach. Armed with this information, victims can further investigate, take action, or correct harm.