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February 09, 2010

Alaska employees at risk of identity theft - push Equifax to establish call center

From - 77,000 current and retired public employees from 2003-2004 at risk of identity theft due to security breach by PriceWaterhouseCoopers.  Read on.
The 77,000 current and retired public employees who may be at risk for identity theft because of information lost by a state contractor should receive letters within the next week or so with details on what to do next. The state is pressing a major credit agency to get a call center in place, perhaps by Feb. 15, to process individual cases.

There have been no reports yet of cases of identity theft resulting from the loss of the prices information, but unless or until PriceWaterhouseCoopers recovers the lost information, the risk remains.

The names, Social Security numbers and birth dates of employees or former employees who were in the Public Employees Retirement System and the Teachers Retirement System in 2003-04 were lost by PricewaterhouseCoopers in Chicago in early December.
The company, which failed to tell the state about its mistake for nearly two months, said in late January that it “regrets that the information was misplaced” and that it has made a “significant commitment” in trying to protect the people at risk.

The information was given to the accounting firm for analysis of financial models which are part of building the state’s lawsuit against Mercer, the company that the state claims mishandled the investments in the two retirement systems, creating losses in the billions.

Part of the settlement is that PricewaterhouseCoopers is to provide credit protection and safeguards for the 77,000 people, who are state and local government workers, teachers, university employees and retirees.

Department of Administration Commissioner Annette Kreitzer said the credit rating agency Equifax is being pressed to get the call center in place as soon as possible that will allow individuals to check on their records and take precautionary measures.

Equifax says it won’t be ready with its call center until Feb. 15, she said.
Kreitzer said a letter with instructions on how to contact the center and a unique code for each person is to be sent out late next week.

“I have questioned whether the call center could be set up more expeditiously, but Equifax has maintained that it cannot,” she said.

“The worst thing we could do is give the instructions out and then have people more frustrated because Equifax hasn’t had time to train its call center operators with our specific settlement information,” she said.

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