Thousands of Arizona children at risk of identity theft - Tucson News Now

Thousands of Arizona children at risk of identity theft

By Barbara Grijalva - email

The Department of Economic Security sent parents a letter telling them that someone had stolen a back-up computer hard drive from a storage facility in Phoenix.

It has a lot of personal family information, the kind that can be used to steal identities.

The possible theft of his young child's personal information is a frightening thought for Tucsonan Mike Cuthbertson.

He wants more information.

"They had no idea who stole it or whether or it was encrypted or how secure the information was," he says.

Cuthbertson's family got the letter from DES's Arizona Early Intervention Program, telling parents about the missing hard drive.

The letter says, quote, "The hard drive contained information that may include your name and address, insurance information, and your child's disability information, date of birth, and social security number," unquote.

But D-E-S doesn't think there's a major threat.

The agency says it's taking steps to protect the families.

Vicki Gaubeca is with the DES Public Information Office.

"We do not believe the burglars were intending to get D-E-S personal information and also we do not believe any personal information has been compromised," she says.

In the letter, DES tells parents that Phoenix police don't think the thieves know what they have.

Gaubeca says they broke into several storage lockers and took things, such as furniture.

The DES letter advises parents to learn how to protect themselves and their children from identity theft.

"I'm aware of how to protect myself from identity theft, but it's distressing to think about having to go get a credit report on a six year old child," Cuthbertson says.

Gaubeca says the agency will keep parents informed as the case progresses.

The DES letter has links to the Federal Trade Commission web site and the Arizona Attorney General's office web site so parents can get tips on how to guard against identity theft.

The D-E-S letter also has a link to get a credit report.

To request a free credit report, click on the link, or call 1-877-322-8228.

The D-E-S says families who have more questions may call the Arizona Early Intervention Program at 1-888-439-5609.

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