Data containing Social Security numbers, names, addresses and dates of birth for an estimated 175,000 California residents were stolen from one of the nation's largest student loan guarantee agencies earlier this month, a spokeswoman for the company told California Watch.
A portable media device containing personal information for 3.3 million borrowers was taken during a break-in March 21 or 22 at Educational Credit Management Corp. headquarters in Oakdale, Minn.
Flickr photo by rpongsaj
ECMC is one of several nonprofits that guarantee federal student loans, insuring them against default. The company is the designated guarantor for Virginia and Oregon, but it also services bankruptcies for borrowers whose loans were guaranteed by guarantee agencies in 25 states, according to the financial aid guide FinAid.org.
Borrowers can go to ECMC's Web site to find out whether they are affected by the data theft. The company has hired Experian to notify everyone whose data was stolen, with letters going out today. An ECMC spokeswoman said the agency will provide affected individuals with credit monitoring, access to credit and fraud resolution counselors and identity theft insurance for a year.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune first reported the story this past weekend after obtaining an e-mail sent by ECMC CEO Richard Boyle to several members of Congress. Sources told the paper the data were stored on discs contained in a safe. Oakdale police, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the FBI are investigating the theft, which some are calling one of the biggest cases of student identity theft in the nation.