SAN ANTONIO — Personal information, including Social Security numbers, was accessible on the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) website for three years.
As many as 1.8 million people were at risk for identity theft between March 2019 and January 2022, a state audit finds.
A coding error made public Social Security numbers, names, addresses, dates of birth, phone numbers, and certain medical records. The data should've only been accessible to Texas Department of Insurance workers.
The problem has been corrected, the department says.
"TDI worked with a forensics company to search the web for evidence of misuse of the information and no evidence has been found to date," a department spokesperson told KENS 5 Monday. "Because the forensic investigation could not conclusively rule out that information may have been viewed outside of TDI, we took steps to notify those who may have been affected."
The department will send letters to the 1.8 million workers who filed compensation insurance claims during the three-year window. The state is offering those Texans free access to credit monitoring and identity protection services for a year.
People who do not get a letter may also be eligible for free services, as long as they filed a workers' compensation claim after 2006. Texans can confirm whether their data was on the web application by calling 855-248-7100 on weekdays between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.
"My best advice is to freeze your credit," said Ted Rossman, Bankrate.com's senior industry analyst. "This is really impactful because it prevents lenders from seeing your credit report. If they can't see it, they won't issue credit. The bad guys can't open a loan or a credit card in your name."
Those who freeze their credit will need to undo the move before they apply for a loan or open a new account.
Texans should also regularly monitor their credit reports, Rossman said.
Because data breaches are increasingly common, Rossman added that Americans should assume their data is publicly available and take steps to secure their accounts.
The Texas Department of Insurance says "it's reviewing and enhancing policies, procedures, and security efforts" to prevent another breach.
The department offers more resources for potential victims here.