Data Security

Federal Student Lender Loses Data on 3.3 Million Borrowers

A non-profit organization that guarantees federal student loans was a victim of portable media theft during March, potentially affecting 3.3 million people whose personal information was on the media.

Educational Credit Management Corp. (ECMC) said the theft occurred at its headquarters in St. Paul, MN sometime during the weekend of March 20-21, 2010. The stolen data contained names, addresses, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers of borrowers, but no bank account or other financial account information. Company representatives said they're not aware of any instances in which the data has been misused.

ECMC discovered the theft on the afternoon of Sunday, March 21 and contacted law enforcement. The organization, which said it has guaranteed $11 billion worth of student loans, is working with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies in the investigation.

The organization said affected individuals would receive a letter containing information about how to sign up for free credit monitoring and notification, get assistance from ECMC fraud resolution representatives, and be provided with identity theft insurance coverage.

"We deeply regret that this incident occurred and the stress it has caused our borrowers and our partners and are doing everything we can to help protect our borrowers' identity and personal information," said Richard Boyle, president and CEO.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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