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Was Your Privacy Compromised by the OPM Hack?

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on July 17, 2015 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The recent hack of the Office of Personnel Management exposed the personal information of some 21.5 million people. That's almost 15 percent of the country. So understandably, it may take some time to notify all those people.

Could you be one of them? Here's what the OPM does, and why they may have your personal information.

Federal HR

The OPM handles job postings for the federal government, sets policies for hiring those positions, and conducts the background investigations for prospective employees and contractors. So not only would they have personal information for federal employees, but also for references and contacts those employees listed for their background checks.

As noted by The Hill, "The total includes 19.7 million contractors and employees who went through security clearance checks going back to 2000 and 1.8 million non-government workers, such as spouses and relatives, named in those checks." And the information for those individuals includes everything from the standard Social Security Numbers, addresses, and employment history to criminal records and even (1.1 million!) fingerprints.

You, Too?

So if you work for the federal government, or you know someone who does, it's possible your information was compromised. While many think hackers in China are responsible for the data breach, the source remains unknown, as do the motives behind the hack.

The number of affected people as also varied. Initially, the government said 4.2 million personnel files were exposed, and almost of those have been notified already. A month later, the total number exploded to over 20 million, and OPM is still not sure how it will contact everyone.

If you've never applied to a federal government position, worked for the feds, or been contacted regarding someone else's application, you're probably safe. In the meantime, you should take steps to protect your privacy, and keep a close eye on your bank records and credit report.

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