Comptroller Combs Meets with TRTA, Assures Retirees She is Working on the Problem
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts Susan Combs met with TRTA officials per our request this week to discuss what actions will be taken to protect the people whose information was exposed on a public computer server for over a year. Comptroller Combs expressed her deep regret over this incident and assured TRTA she would provide additional protections to all individuals affected by this security lapse.
Today, she released a statement regarding several measures that will help resolve this issue. “I am deeply sorry this incident occurred and I take full responsibility for it,” Combs said. “This incident has affected the lives of Texans that I have dedicated my life to serving, and I am determined to restore their faith in the Comptroller’s office. That’s why we are taking additional actions to assist those who were affected and implementing new policies and procedures to help ensure this never happens again.”
Starting tomorrow (April 29), those who have had their personal information posted due to this security lapse will be able to sign up for free credit monitoring and internet surveillance.
Comptroller Combs also stated that identity restoration services for enrollees whose personal information is misused as a result of the lapse will be paid for by Combs’ campaign fund.
TRTA members can read the complete statement by clicking here (or you can read her statement below).
The posting of personal information of more than 3.5 million records from the Teacher Retirement System, the Employees Retirement System and the Texas Workforce Commission was a serious mistake that has put these individuals at risk of identity theft and fraud. TRTA asked the Comptroller to provide free credit monitoring for everyone impacted by this security lapse. The announcement today is a step in the right direction.
TRTA members should visit the Comptroller’s web site at http://www.txsafeguard.org/ and read about protecting your personal information. Starting tomorrow, TRTA members are encouraged to sign up for the free credit monitoring and internet surveillance program offered through the Comptroller’s office (the service itself is being provided through CSIdentity). Information about signing up for this free service is also provided on the web site above.
Please note, you are NOT automatically enrolled in this program. The free credit monitoring and internet surveillance program requires you to enroll online or by phone. If you know someone who may not have a computer or who does not receive the Inside Line, please get the word out about this free service.
TRTA has not yet seen the web site that will be used for enrollees, so we welcome your feedback on how the enrollment process works. Again, enrollment for 1-year free credit monitoring and internet surveilance begins Friday, April 29 and ends on July 27, 2011.
While this is a difficult situation and one that we wish had never happened, we do want to express our appreciation to Comptroller Combs for personally meeting with TRTA officials. Her sincerity in working to resolve this issue is clear, and we expect that her office will develop the safeguards necessary to always protect TRS retired and active members now and in the future.
Thank you for your membership in TRTA. We know these have been challenging months and that the legislative session has been filled with uncertainty. The good news is that TRTA members are making a difference this session! If you are not a member but would like to join, please contact the TRTA office at 1.800.880.1650.
From the Office of Susan Combs, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
“For Immediate Release              Contact: Allen Spelce
April 28, 2011                                                                                                                       R.J. DeSilva
                                                                                                                                          (512) 463-4070                                                                                                                 Comptroller Combs Takes Additional Actions to Assist People Affected by Unauthorized Data Posting and to Enhance Data Security
Free Credit Monitoring Offered As of Friday Morning 
Combs to Cover Cost of Identity Restoration Services
(AUSTIN) — Texas Comptroller Susan Combs today announced a series of additional actions her office is taking to address the unauthorized posting of certain personal information on one of the agency’s file transfer servers.
“I am deeply sorry this incident occurred and I take full responsibility for it,” Combs said. “This incident has affected the lives of Texans that I have dedicated my life to serving, and I am determined to restore their faith in the Comptroller’s office. That’s why we are taking additional actions to assist those who were affected and implementing new policies and procedures to help ensure this never happens again.”
The additional measures being taken to assist those affected by the incident include:
  • Beginning at 7 a.m., April 29, 2011, one year of credit monitoring and Internet surveillance offered at no charge to those affected by the unauthorized posting of their personal information; and
  • Identity restoration services for enrollees whose personal information is misused as a result of the data posting, paid for by Combs’ campaign fund.
As previously announced, a website (www.TXsafeguard.org) is available to provide affected people with information about protective measures they can take. A call center for affected individuals also has been established.
The additional measures being taken to help ensure that a similar incident does not happen again include:
  • Installing software that will provide automatic alerts when certain sensitive personal information moves into or out of the agency;
  • Adding staff and reorganizing lines of reporting to enhance information security. The agency will hire a Chief Privacy Officer who, along with the existing positions of Chief Technology Officer, Information Security Officer and Internal Auditor, will report directly to the agency’s Deputy Comptroller;
  • Providing enhanced security awareness and training for appropriate personnel;
  • Implementing a new secure file transfer system that provides enhanced encryption; and
  • Obtaining an information security risk assessment from one of the world’s leading information technology consulting firms.
The agency already has secured all existing personal data it maintains on its file transfer servers and has implemented around-the-clock manual monitoring of databases until the automatic alert system is installed.
The free credit monitoring service, provided through CSIdentity, alerts subscribers to certain activity associated with their credit files, such as credit inquiries, or account openings, closings or delinquencies. Subscribers will also receive CSIdentity’s Internet surveillance service, which monitors chat rooms and websites for personal information. 
Information about the program offer is available at https://txfreecredit.csidentity.com. For confidentiality reasons, CSIdentity requires that each affected person enroll directly through the website, rather than through the Comptroller’s office. Enrollment for free credit monitoring will be available to affected individuals during a 90-day period beginning 7 a.m., April 29, 2011, through July 27, 2011. Those who do not have online access may call toll free 1-877-219-1189 beginning April 29, 2011.
In a separate service paid for by Combs’ campaign fund, CSIdentity will provide identity restoration services to anyone whose personal information is misused as a result of the data posting. To qualify for this offer, individuals must be enrolled in CSIdentity’s free credit monitoring service offered to those affected. There is no indication that anyone’s personal information has been misused in connection with this incident. 
Some people whose personal information was affected may have already signed up for discounted credit monitoring and identity protection services offered by several service providers through the Comptroller’s office. Those companies have cancellation and refund policies, and individuals who signed up can contact the companies if they wish to cancel.
The general toll-free number for the Texas Safeguard program is 1-855-474-2065, or people can visit www.TXsafeguard.org.”