by Max Brantley
The Arkansas Department of Information Services announced today that a computer record of criminal background checks run on more than 800,000 people over the last 12 years is missing from a storage facility. Does someone else have it? Does it constitute a potential threat of identify theft or other harm? Inadvertently swept out in the Huckabee computer purge? (snark) Unknown.
The state has provided a means to check whether your name was among those on the storage disk.
Records of Criminal Background Checks Run in Arkansas Potentially Exposed
The Arkansas Department of Information Systems (DIS) was informed at the end of January that a vendor providing secure off-site storage for electronic records and computer files was unable to locate a DIS computer tape in its inventory. The tape contained information from criminal-background checks run on approximately 807,000 people over at least 12 years.
The vendor, Information Vaulting Services (IVS), had records showing the tape in its possession, but a thorough search of their facility failed to turn up the tape. Arkansas State Police has investigated and to this point has found no evidence of an intentional security breach or other wrongdoing. IVS believes there is little risk that this information has been compromised. Nonetheless, since IVS cannot account for the tape, DIS officials have decided to take the precautionary measure of alerting the public about the potential exposure of this information.
"We have taken every step possible to recreate where the loss of these backup tapes occurred, and these tapes were redundant, second extra copies, of information," Danny Palo, Chief Operating Officer of IVS, said. "This is the first time in six years of service to DIS that this has happened. IVS has immediately taken steps to tighten procedures that will virtually eliminate the possibility of this ever happening again."
Anyone who has undergone a criminal-background check in Arkansas since the mid-1990s, and wants to know if his/her personal information was included on the lost computer tape, can find out either by phone or on the Internet. By calling 1-888-682-0411 or going online to notify.arkansas.gov, interested parties can determine if their name is on the list by entering or sharing their first name, last name at the time of the background check and their date of birth. No other personal information will be asked for, even for verification purposes. The call center will be staffed Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. through 5:00 p.m.
While IVS stresses that it believes that there is little chance of this information being compromised, anyone concerned can obtain a free credit report as provided by federal law. By visiting annualcreditreport.com, consumers can check their credit activity through one of the three major credit bureaus to look for any unauthorized credit activity. Consumers are allowed one report from each of the three bureaus every twelve months.
DIS keeps backup copies of this information offsite to comply with federal standards and to ensure that the information is accessible should the original versions become unavailable through disaster or malfunction. In addition, DIS has encrypted backup information stored off site for enhanced security.