The U.S. Office of Personnel Management reported Thursday that 21.5 million people have been affected by two data breaches of federal information. That's nearly seven percent of the entire United States population who might have had their social security number, educational and employment history records, and other personal information obtained by hackers. Understandably, you might want to know if your information was stolen or if you're otherwise affected by the breaches, one of which involved personnel data and another of which involved background investigation records. The OPM has compiled a document about how to know if the federal information breaches affect you.
According to the OPM, if you underwent a background investigation (if you've ever submitted the forms SF-86, SF-85, or SF-85P) through the department in 2000 or later, it is "highly likely" that this incident affects you. And if you underwent a background check through OPM prior to 2000, you can still be affected, though it's less likely. But it's not just current employees whose information has been obtained. You should start looking into steps to prevent identity theft if you are in one of the following classifications:
- Current or former federal government employees — including members of the U.S. military
- Current or former federal contractors
- Job candidates who were required to complete a background investigation
- Spouses and cohabitants of current or former federal employees, contractors, and job candidates
- Immediate family, close contacts, and references of current or former federal employees, contractors, and job candidates.
Current and former federal government employees were affected by both of the breaches. Current or former federal contractors, job candidates, spouses and cohabitants, and immediate family, close contacts, and references were affected only by the background investigation breach.
If you were one of the current or former employees affected by the personnel breach, the following information of yours could have been compromised:
- Social security number
- Birth date
- Current and former addresses
- Personnel information, such as job assignments, training history, and benefits selections
If you were one of the many people affected by the background investigation breach, the following information could have been compromised:
- Social security number
- Residency and educational history
- Employment history
- Information about immediate family and personal/business acquaintances
- Health, criminal, and financial information that is part of a background check
- Findings from investigators' interviews
- Usernames and passwords used to fill out forms
Although OPM said there is not yet evidence that the information has been misused, there are several steps you should take to protect yourself. Watch for signs of identity theft, change your passwords, and keep an eye out for phishing scams. OPM is providing several services for those who have been affected.
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