Passport applicants warned of breach
WASHINGTON - The State Department said yesterday that it has notified nearly 400 passport applicants of a security breach in its records system that may have left them open to identity theft.
The department has so far told 383 people - most of them in the Washington, D.C., area - that their passport applications containing personal information, including Social Security numbers, may have been illegally reviewed and used to open fraudulent credit card accounts, spokesman Sean McCormack said.
More may be notified as an investigation continues, he said, adding that most of those contacted had not been victimized by identity thieves. All have been offered free credit monitoring for a year.
The breach came to light in March around the same time the department was grappling with cases of workers improperly snooping in the passport application files of presidential candidates, celebrities, and athletes, McCormack said. However, he said the cases are not related.
The department told the 383 passport applicants of their potential vulnerability in August and earlier this month while working with Washington police.
Police in March arrested a man they said was found with 19 credit cards in different names and eight completed passport applications. The names of four of those applicants matched those on four of the credit cards.