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Apr-22-2007 10:54printcomments

USDA Narrows List of Individuals Whose Private Data was Exposed

The USDA will offer free credit monitoring for one year to people whose private identification information was exposed.

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Salem-News.com

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - The U.S. Department of Agriculture has narrowed to 63,000 the number of people whose private identification information was accessible to the public on a government-wide website and who will therefore be eligible to register for free credit monitoring services.

The 63,000 people were awarded funds through the Farm Service Agency (FSA) or USDA Rural Development (RD).

The USDA became aware of the potential exposure of such information on April 13th, when USDA was notified by a recipient of USDA funding that she was able to ascertain identifying information by viewing the website.

All of the private identifying information was embedded in a larger number and therefore not immediately identifiable.

The same day, all identification numbers associated with USDA funding were removed from the website.

The FSA programs involved are limited to; Conservation Security Program, Emergency Loan for Seed Producers, Emergency Loans, Farm Labor Housing Loans and Grants, Farm Ownership Loans, Special Apple Program, and the Wetlands Reserve Program.

The Rural Development programs involved are limited to; Business and Industry Loans, Community Facilities Loans and Grants, Direct Housing Natural Disaster, Direct Housing Natural Disaster Loans and Grants, Emergency Loans, Lower Income Housing Assistance Program Section 8 Moderate Rehabilitation, Physical Disaster Loans, Rural Rental Assistance Payments, Rural Rental Housing Loans, Very Low to Moderate Income Housing Loans, and Very Low-Income Housing Repair Loans and Grants.

The information was removed from the website immediately after USDA learned of the potential exposure.

There is no evidence that this information has been misused. However, due to the potential that this information was downloaded prior to being removed, USDA will provide the additional monitoring service.

USDA funding recipients who wish to take advantage of the credit monitoring offer will be provided with instructions for how to register.

Any USDA funding recipient with questions may call (800) FED-INFO (800-333-4636) or visit USA.gov. The call center operates from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM (EDT), Monday-Friday.




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