GARDEN CITY, Kan. (KSNW) — Some Kansas residents could be at risk for identity theft after hackers took advantage for a security breach. Hackers got into a Kansas Department of Commerce site that is used by several states.
The numbers are staggering and in all, about 5.5 million people nationwide are affected. More than 500,000 Kansans were affected.
Reports show that about half a million Kansans had their Social Security numbers stolen back in March from a Kansas Department of Commerce data system.
“It’s not fun once you get your identity taken,” said Jason Drohman with Western State Bank in Garden City
Kansans with accounts on kansasworks.com were victims of that cyber-attack and had their social security numbers stolen.
“It was a coding problem or vulnerability that was discovered,” said Ron Carlson, a cyber security professor at Garden City Community College, “and of course code is not usually perfect and is exploited where possible.”
Hackers did exploit that and now for those affected, it could affect their credit scores and cause fraudulent charges, but it may not happen quickly.
“Sometimes thieves hold on to the data and use it later for an attack, but not immediately,” said Carlson.
If you’re not sure you were affected, there are red flags to look out for, like mail for a credit card you didn’t sign up for or mysterious transactions in your bank account.
“If you think you’re one of them,” said Drohman, “just make sure you’re watching your bank accounts, your credit card accounts, any type of accounts that you have out there.”
Banks and credit card companies will work with you to clear up any issues.
“Fill out a report stating these are not my charges, this is not my account, and then some due diligence will be done and you should be taken care of,” said Drohman.
Kansas will pay for a year of credit monitoring for those affected, but you’ll have to sign up for it.
“Free credit monitoring is available to those who had accounts,” said Carlson, “so you can contact that Kansas workforce.”
There’s nothing the average person could have done to prevent this breach, but you can beef up your personal security by changing your passwords regularly, installing malware software on your computer, and only using secure internet connections.
KSN reached out to the Kansas Department of Commerce, but they didn’t respond to our request for comment.
The call center for victims, which can be reached at (844) 469-3939, will remain open through the end of July.
Need resources to help protect your identity, visit https://www.fdic.gov/consumers/consumer/fighttheft/ and https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0014-identity-theft