Student Loan Data Theft Called Largest Ever

03.29.10 | FL News Team

The theft last week of a portable media storage device containing personal data on three-point-three-million borrowers is now being called the largest-ever breach of identity information. "The Wall Street Journal" reports it could affect up to five-percent of all federal student-loan borrowers. The data was stolen from the headquarters of Educational Credit Management Corporation in St. Paul, Minnesota. The incident has been called a "simple, old-fashioned theft" by the company, which says it wasn't a hacker incident. The company has released very little information on what was actually taken but admits names, addresses, Social Security numbers and other personal data on borrowers was on the device.

 This isn't an isolated incident but most data thefts don't involve so much personal information. The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a nonprofit consumer group, figures more than 347-million records containing sensitive information have been compromised in the U.S. alone in the last five years. ECMC, which services more than eleven-billion dollars in student loans for the Department of Education, plans to begin notifying affected customers in writing this week.