PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – A data breach expert from the credit reporting company Experian said Oregonians should check their credit about once a month after the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles was impacted by a global data hack.
On Thursday, June 15, the Oregon Department of Transportation said the global hack on the data transfer software MOVEit jeopardized the personal information of 3.5 million Oregon ID card or driver’s license holders, since the Oregon DMV used the software to encrypt and transfer files.
The MOVEit hack also impacted Umpqua Bank customers and other agencies in states across the U.S. and some federal departments.
In a press conference announcing the breach, ODOT said the hackers could have access to first and last names, driver’s license or identification card numbers, dates of birth, physical addresses, and the last four digits of social security numbers.
They immediately recommended all Oregon ID card and driver’s license holders start monitoring their credit for suspicious activity.
With personal information like this, Mike Bruemmer, head of Experian’s global data breach resolution business, said someone could create a fake identity and use it to open accounts in your name and commit a crime in your name.
They could also access your medical records or get your insurance information.
If this occurs, Bruemmer said it could cost people dozens of hours and perhaps thousands of dollars to resolve. That’s why it’s important for people to start monitoring their credit file now for any suspicious activity.
“Pay attention to any changes. This is the time to be Chicken Little. Be suspicious and if you’re not sure, you can always call Experian, no charge, speak to a fraud resolution person and say, ‘Hey, this is what happened,’” Bruemmer said.
Everyone is entitled to a free copy of their credit report from each credit bureau – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion – every year, which means you could check one bureau every four months for free to make sure there’s been no suspicious activity.
However, Bruemmer encourages people to check once a month if they can and pointed out that some membership programs with credit bureaus allow people to check their credit daily if they want to. Credit reporting companies may charge people a fee for checking their credit more often than once a year.
Oregon DMV customers should also put a fraud alert and a credit lock or credit freeze on their credit files so no one can access it. A credit freeze is a bit more permanent than a credit lock, Bruemmer said. A credit lock can be turned on and off relatively easily, so it might be a good option for someone planning to make a large purchase sometime soon.
“Both of them I would recommend in the circumstance where you know the data has been compromised. It’s already been put on the dark web and who knows where else it may have been spread,” Bruemmer said.
Once personal information has been compromised, it could be available on the dark web forever. So, people will need to continue to check their credit regularly, Bruemmer said. There is no end date when they’ll be in the clear.
Bruemmer said he’d also recommend Oregonians consider purchasing new driver’s license or ID cards from the Oregon DMV. However, the Oregon DMV stressed that this is not what they recommend.
Michelle Godfrey, public information officer for the Oregon DMV, said there is no reason or point to getting a new ID card. A new ID card won’t protect anyone, she said, and if everyone rushed to the DMV for new IDs, it would overwhelm their offices.
“If it helped people, we would do it,” Godfrey said, “but it’s not going to help.”
A person’s state ID number or driver’s license number also cannot be changed upon request. The only instance when it could be changed is when someone can prove with a police report or other official document that they were the victim of identity fraud. If that happens, they can contact the DMV to request a new card.
Otherwise, the Oregon DMV has been giving the same advice as Bruemmer: monitor your credit account and freeze your credit files.
The Oregon Attorney General’s Office has also posted information online about what Oregon DMV customers can do to protect themselves.
Bruemmer said credit is not lowered when people check their credit. That does not count as an inquiry and does not impact a person’s credit score.