CLEVELAND, Jun 25, 2012 (BUSINESS WIRE) –
Towards Employment, Incorporated, a non-profit corporation based in
Cleveland, Ohio, recently suffered a data security breach. On May 11,
2012, a laptop computer assigned to a Towards Employment employee was
stolen from its offices. The laptop contained a database with
information about Towards Employment’s current and former program
participants. The database included the following personal information:
names, addresses, and social security numbers, but did not include
financial data or information. The laptop was password protected, but it
is possible that someone could still gain access to the personal
information on the laptop. Towards Employment reported the theft of the
laptop to the Cleveland Police Department and is continuing to follow-up
on all available evidence to determine the extent of unauthorized
access, if any, to personal information. To date, Towards Employment has
no evidence that this laptop was stolen with the intent to access
personal information or that the database containing the personal
information that was on the stolen laptop has been accessed or misused.
However, this security breach could increase the potential that personal
information is misused.
Towards Employment has set-up a hotline to verify whether program
participants are affected by the breach and to provide information and
services to any persons affected by the security breach. Anyone that has
provided personal information to Towards Employment is
urged to immediately contact Towards Employment at 1-800-372-1979 or
1-216-297-4470 to learn if he or she may be affected by the
security breach. The hotline will be staffed from June 25, 2012 to July
31, 2012, Monday through Thursday 8:00 AM EST to 4:00 PM EST and Friday
8:00 PM EST to 2:00 PM EST. Messages can be left with the hotline
outside of these hours, and Towards Employment will return the message
at a time convenient for the caller. Beginning August 1, 2012, program
participants can still contact Towards Employment by calling
216-696-5750. Not all Towards Employment program participants are
affected by the security breach. For example, program participants that
first provided personal information to Towards Employment after May 11,
2012, are not affected. However, all those with concerns are encouraged
to call Towards Employment immediately.
For all persons that call the hotline and are affected by the security
data breach, Towards Employment will provide free services to help the
affected persons protect themselves from misuse of personal information,
such as identity theft. Towards Employment has entered into an agreement
with Experian Consumer Direct under which Experian Consumer Direct will
provide the following services to any affected persons:
1. Credit Report — A free copy of the
person’s Experian credit report.
2. Credit Monitoring — Experian will
monitor each person’s Experian credit report daily for a one year period
and alert the person of new or suspicious activity.
3. Insurance — Each person will receive
insurance for a one year period for qualifying losses stemming from this
data security breach.
4. Identity Theft Resolution — A fraud
resolution agent for Experian will help each person address issues
related to identity theft stemming from this breach. This service does
not have an expiration date.
Although, affected individuals must call
Towards Employment by September 14, 2012 in order to be eligible for the
services, any delay in calling can limit protection against identity
Upon calling Towards Employment, all eligible persons will receive an
activation code used to activate the Experian services. Activation must
be completed at
or by calling Experian at 877-297-7780. Activation with Experian must be
completed by September 30, 2012.
If you suspect that you are a victim of identity theft, immediately
contact your local police department, state Attorney General, and the
Federal Trade Commission. Towards Employment encourages all current and
former program participants to take the following steps to help protect
against fraud and identity theft:
Immediately notify your banking institution of the potential that your
personal information has been compromised, and comply with your
banking institution’s loss-prevention security policies and advice.
Review your bank, credit card and debit card account statements regularly
and immediately report any suspicious activity to your bank or
Request a 90-day fraud alert on your credit report through one of the
three national credit reporting agencies (listed below). This alert
can be cancelled at any time. These alerts are renewable every 90 days
and should notify you if there are any attempts to open new accounts
using your personal information. You only need to contact one of the
agencies below. That agency will then contact the other two agencies.
If you have evidence of an actual identity theft, you can obtain a
seven-year fraud alert.
Equifax Experian TransUnion
Fraud Division Credit Fraud Center Fraud Victim Assistance
P.O. Box 105069 P.O. Box 1017 P.O. Box 6790
Atlanta, GA 30348 Allen, TX 75013 Fullerton, CA 92834
1-888-766-0008 1-888-397-3742 1-800-680-7289
Place freezes on your credit report. A credit freeze is designed to
prevent credit, loans, and services from being approved in your name
without your consent by prohibiting a credit reporting agency from
releasing any information in your credit report without your express
authorization or approval. You can freeze your credit report with all
three of the credit reporting agencies listed above by sending a
written request to each agency by certified mail or by a secured
electronic method authorized by the credit reporting agencies. You can
receive more information on freezing your credit report from the
credit reporting agencies. Be aware that there are fees associated
with a credit freeze. In Ohio, a credit reporting agency can charge up
to $5.00 to freeze a credit report or lift the freeze.
Obtain your annual free credit report mandated by federal law either
by contacting one of the above credit reporting agencies or from the
Annual Credit Report Request Service P.O. Box 105283 Atlanta,
GA 30348-5283 1-877-322-8228
Obtain information from the Federal Trade Commission about additional
steps you can take to avoid identity theft:
Federal Trade Commission 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington,
DC 20580 1-877-ID-THEFT
Consult the following informational sources:
“To Buy or Not to Buy: Identity Theft Spawns New Products and Services
to Help Minimize Risk,” available at:
“How to Deal with a Security Breach, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse,”
“Take Charge, Fighting Back Against Identity Theft,” available at:
Towards Employment takes this security breach seriously and will take
the following steps to strengthen its information technology security to
attempt to prevent any future security breaches.
Hard drives on Towards Employment laptop computers will be encrypted.
All data transmitted within Towards Employment’s computer systems will
Towards Employment will no longer collect social security numbers and
will modify all social security numbers in its current database to
only include the last four digits.
All Towards Employment laptops will have tracking software installed
to facilitate locating a missing laptop.
All Towards Employment laptops will have physical locks to secure the
laptops both inside and outside the office.
All Towards Employment computers will require a second password to
access databases in addition to the log-on password, and each password
will include a combination of letters, numbers and symbols.
In addition to these steps, Towards Employment will continue to
evaluate, identify, and mitigate potential vulnerabilities to its
information technology systems.
About Towards Employment: Towards
Employment’s mission is to empower individuals to achieve and maintain
self-sufficiency through employment. Since 1976, Towards Employment has
helped more than 100,000 low-income and disadvantaged adults in Greater
Cleveland prepare for jobs, get jobs, keep jobs and move up the career
ladder. Since 2004, Towards Employment has also taken on the challenge
of placing ex-offenders in full-time, permanent jobs. More information
can be found at
SOURCE: Towards Employment
Jill Rizika, Executive Director, 216-696-5750
Copyright Business Wire 2012