CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - A significant data breach is shaking up a local agency and affecting an estimated 50,000 people in Ohio.
The Regional Income Tax Agency of Ohio says personal information contained in tax documents supplied by certain individuals may be at risk after an internal investigation revealed a DVD containing this information was missing and cannot be located. RITA says the incident affects about 50,000 people.
On Nov. 10, 2015, in the process of preparing 100 DVDs for secure destruction, RITA discovered that one DVD case was empty and the DVD was missing.
Seven days later, an investigation revealed that the DVD, which was used as part of its former system backup process, contained copies of income tax documents submitted on or before June 2012. The DVD may have contained such personal information as name, address, Social Security Number, and date of birth of less than 2 percent of the tax accounts handled by RITA.
Executive Director Don Smith says after a week of trying to recover it, they had to consider the data "at risk" and went about the weeks-long process of identifying who was at risk and how to reach them. Letters went out on Dec. 31.
Smith says they can't confirm it with certainty, but there's no evidence that it was stolen.
"What we do believe, based on our investigation, is that most likely, it was shredded as part of our unidentified DVD process. In the course of business around here, if we come across a DVD that isn't clearly labeled, we don't set about trying to figure out exactly what it is. We err on the side of caution," Smith said.
DVDs used to back up certain systems had been stored off-site at a third-party vendor's secure facility and were recalled by RITA to be securely destroyed. This action was taken because RITA had moved to a new, more secure, backup system, which made the DVDs obsolete.
"They have a courier that would come and take the data, they would send it to their secure site, hold it until such time that we would ask for it to come back, and then courier it back. We've not been made aware of any evidence on their part of break-in or theft or anything," said Smith.
Individuals impacted will be eligible to receive credit monitoring and identity protection for one year at no cost through Experian.
The agency has even established a call center dedicated to this issue. You can reach them at 1-866-940-3613.
There have not been any reports of identity theft tied to this incident.
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