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When a natural disaster upends your family and your way of life, the last thing you need is more bad news. Unfortunately, this is the case for a large amount of recent disaster survivors. The Department of Homeland Security just released that FEMA unlawfully shared personal information of 2.3 million disaster victims. Those affected by this data leak are survivors of the 2017 California wildfires and hurricanes Irma, Maria and Harvey. It was stated that the individuals who were a part of this leak are at “increased risk of identity theft and fraud.”

FEMA Data Leak

Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security, John V. Kelly, states that the data of 2.3 million disaster victims was unlawfully disclosed with a federal contractor. This contractor was being used to help find temporary housing for victims.

The report states that “FEMA provided and continues to provide  with more than 20 unnecessary data fields for survivors participating in the TSA program.” This information includes:

  • Applicant Street Address
  • Applicant Zip Code
  • Applicant City Name
  • Applicant’s Financial Institution Name
  • Applicant’s Electronic Funds Transfer Number
  • Applicant’s Bank Transfer Number

FEMA Press Secretary, Lizzie Litzow, made a statement saying “Since discovery of this issue, FEMA has taken aggressive measures to correct this error. FEMA is no longer sharing unnecessary data with the contractor and has conducted a detailed review of the contractor’s information system.”

In December 2018, FEMA began filtering data in order to prevent unnecessary information from being shared. However, a more permanent fix may not be completed until June 2020. According to Litzow, “To date, FEMA has found no indicators to suggest survivor data has been compromised.”

What To Do If You May Be A Part Of This Leak

  • Sign up for an identity theft restoration service that covers your entire family, such as ReclaimMyID. If you become a victim of identity theft, this company will work to restore your identity 100%.
  • Keep an eye on your financial statements daily.
  • Consider placing a fraud alert or credit freeze on your credit file.

A Free Guide on How To Secure Your Identity & Protect Your Data