The following letter was sent to all employees at their OUSD email Friday. An autodial message is going out today.
It really is beyond belief that sensitive material would be left lying in an unsecured building. While OUSD is frantically closing the barnyard door, please be proactive in notifying your creditors and monitoring your accounts. The district outlines its actions and suggested ones for you to follow after the letter.
Dear OUSD Parents, Staff, and Community,
The Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) values our students, employees, and families and protecting their confidential information is important to us. So, it’s with regret that we inform you of an incident that has compromised personal information belonging to some of our major stakeholders. This is unacceptable. We apologize for this mistake and are taking strong corrective action to address it and prevent a recurrence. In the meantime, we’d like to explain what happened, the implications for OUSD, and the remedies we’re offering for anyone who might have been affected.
We recently learned that a number of OUSD employees had their identities compromised, likely because unsecured documents were obtained from the old administration building at 1025 Second Avenue, a site that is no longer in use. Specifically, five employees of OUSD’s Facilities Department presented evidence suggesting their private information was accessed and used improperly by other parties.
At this point, the impact appears to be contained in the Facilities Department and there is no evidence of widespread identity theft affecting students or staff.
As a precaution, OUSD is extending credit protection services to present and past employees, extending back for a period of years that will be determined in the coming week. On behalf of our employees, we have secured two years of identity protection services and benefits from Identity Fraud, Inc. (IFI), the preferred provider of identity protection solutions to National Education Association (NEA) members. We discuss the benefits of the service later in this letter, but we’re taking this step to better safeguard personal information and to avert any further issues.
We’ve also put in place additional measures to secure the site and the documents within by:
collecting all documents within 1025 Second Avenue and preparing them for transport to a secure and safe facility by Monday, July 14
retaining around-the-clock security for 1025 Second Avenue until the move is completed
developing a document management policy that provides for safe custodianship of documents on a day-to-day basis and in case of a catastrophic event like the one that occurred at 1025 Second Avenue
Contrary to a media report, student records were not compromised. The only documents related to students that remained in the building were financial documents for a small number of students who served as District interns. OUSD does not collect or retain social security numbers for students except in the case of paid student interns, as is required by tax law. Any current or former students in this category will be contacted and provided the same relief OUSD is offering staff.
In the meantime, we want to provide more context around the circumstances related to the suspected identify theft. In January 2013, a flood forced the temporary closure of 1025 Second Avenue. All OUSD departments housed within were moved to other OUSD properties while the viability of the headquarters building was assessed and eventually declared unfit for further use.
Since the day after the flood, efforts have been made to remove equipment and files from 1025 Second Ave, and place them in alternate locations. Despite much work in this area, many files—the product of eight decades of paperwork conducted at the site—remained, along with some supplies and equipment. Transport of the files has progressed more slowly than hoped. During this period, security measures have been taken to safeguard the property as a whole and the files within it. These measures include:
repeated boarding and bolting of doors and windows
the installation and repeated repair of a chain link fence surrounding the property
use of sensors and security systems to deter entry into the building
periodic sweeps of the premises by Oakland School Police
Despite preventive efforts, squatters have thwarted security measures and gained access to the building. Buildings and Grounds (B&G) employees have returned to the site numerous times to address security breeches. After one of the most recent incidents, in mid-June, several B&G employees discovered files with employee social security numbers present.
Subsequent to this discovery, five Buildings and Grounds employees reported that their identities or financial accounts had been compromised. OUSD has hired a private investigator to interview the relevant parties and gain greater clarity on what occurred; that investigation is ongoing. We understand the importance of privacy with regard to information and are in the process of assessing district practices to ensure integrity in our storage of important records. I learned all of this information this week and immediately asked staff to secure all records. We are in the process of removing all documents from the premises. The building will be monitored by 24-hour security until we can be assured of the removal of all sensitive records by early next week.
I ask that you read on for more information about the credit protection service described in this letter. We will send a direct communication offering further guidance to those people we’ve identified as being in a potentially affected group by Friday, July 18. In the meantime, we deeply apologize for the anxiety caused by this situation and pledge to remedy not only this problem, but also its root causes in our efforts to prioritize the safety, well-being, and confidence of our students, employees, and families.
Information about Fraud Protection and Identity Fraud, Inc.
On behalf of our employees, we are securing two years of identity protection services and benefits from Identity Fraud, Inc. (IFI), the preferred provider of identity protection solutions to National Education Association (NEA) members.
The benefits include:
unlimited access to an IFI hotline for questions and assistance
$25,000 of identity insurance per year with a $0.00 deductible
fraud prevention resources and tools
unlimited access to fraud resolution specialists to help resolve any type of identity theft, whether arising from this incident or from unrelated events
We will send another communication next week with specific details on the fraud prevention hotline and website for OUSD employees. In the meantime, please know that if you are concerned about identity theft, you can have a free, 90-day fraud alert placed on your credit file. This lets potential creditors and others know that you may be a victim of identity theft. A fraud alert can make it more difficult for someone to get credit in your name because it tells creditors to follow certain procedures that will protect you. It may also, however, delay your ability to obtain credit.
You may place a fraud alert in your file by calling any one of the three nationwide consumer reporting agencies or by requesting a fraud alert online. As soon as the agency processes your fraud alert, it will notify the other two, which then must also place fraud alerts in your file.
Equifax: 1-800-525-6285; www.equifax.com
Experian: 1-888-397-3742; www.experian.com
TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; www.transunion.com
Under current law, you are already allowed one free copy of your credit report per year from any one of the three agencies listed above. If you have not already reviewed your credit report this year, it is a good idea to do so. The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act provides for anyone residing in the United States and its possessions to receive three free credit reports a year atwww.annualcreditreport.com. Through the site, or by phoning the toll-free number at 1-877-322-8228, you can get one report each year from each of the three major credit reporting companies—Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. If you have not already reviewed your credit report this year, it is a good idea to do so.
Some indicators of identity theft are: (a) Charges on your accounts that you did not authorize; (b) You are denied credit due to poor credit ratings, despite good credit history; (c) You are contacted by creditors regarding amounts owed for goods or services that you never authorized; (d) Your credit card and bank statements are not received in the mail as expected; and (e) A new or renewed credit card is not received. If you suspect that you are the victim of identity theft, you should immediately contact the police and the fraud departments of the three major credit reporting bureaus to place fraud alerts on your credit file.
We will continue to keep you updated on developments in this incident and methods you can take to protect your identity. We deeply apologize for the inconvenience this represents.
Director of Communications | Communications Department
Oakland Unified School District (OUSD)
Suite 680, 1000 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94607-4099
Phone: (510) 473-5832
Community Schools, Thriving Students
Escuelas Comunitarias, Estudiantes Progresando