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Over 3 million students lose their personal information to theft at ECMC

“We deeply regret that this incident occurred and the stress it has caused our borrowers and our partners.” ~Richard Boyle, president and CEO of ECMC

Eric Ercanbrack

The  Broadside

Financial Aid Provider, Education Credit Management Corporation, reported on March 21, 3.3 mil student’s names, social security numbers, addresses, and date of births were stolen from the companies building in Minnesota. Central Oregon Community College, until recently, used ECMC as one of their financial aid loan providers.

ECMC discovered and immediately reported the theft of two safes containing nearly 650 disks, which had personal information of 3.3 mil students. The incident report, which notified Oakdale Police Department, stated a reported burglary at ECMC with an unknown point of entry. The safes, found in Minneapolis, have been held by Minneapolis police. A suspect in the crime, already detained for an unrelated matter, is being held for questioning.

“Honestly, I don’t know,” said Richard Boyle, president and CEO of ECMC, when the Wall Street Journal asked how multiple 200 pound safes were taken from the building by an non-employee. “We deeply regret that this incident occurred and the stress it has caused our borrowers and our partners and we are doing everything we can to help protect our borrowers’ identity and person information,” said Boyle.

ECMC is a non-profit corporation that provides loans to students, schools and lenders in support of higher education finance.  According to ECMC’s website, the corporation is the guarantor agency in Virginia, Oregon, and Connecticut.

ECMC has sent letters to 3.1 mil of the students whose information has been questionably compromised.  The letters sent by ECMC alert students of the theft and provide free credit protection services.  According to a Minnesota Department of Public Safety press release, the safes had been opened and the CD’s and floppy disc were found nearby still in their original packaging. The US Department of Education Office of Inspector General will seek any evidence to determine if the information has been compromised.

The burglary at ECMC is the first time personal information from a federal loan guarantor has been compromised. The last large breach of personal information occurred in November. Health Net Inc. reported that 1.5 mil people’s personal information had been lost. The letter Health Net sent to their customers stated that the personal information on Health Net’s disk was designed in a way that was not easily decoded.

ECMC urges those effected to take steps to protect their credit by requesting a free credit report from annualcreditreport.com, or getting free protection provided by Experian, one of the three major credit bureaus.  If strange activity occurs, ECMC asks that individuals to contact their local law enforcement and file a police report.

“We remain vigilant to the needs and concerns of our borrowers, and continue to encourage borrowers who were notified by us of this incident to take advantage of the free credit monitoring and fraud protection package we are providing them through Experian,” said Boyle.

You may contact Eric Ercanbrack at eercanbrack@cocc.edu

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