USDA Narrows List To 38,700 Individuals Whose Private Data Was Exposed
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has narrowed to approximately 38,700 the number of people whose private identification information was accessible to the public on a government-wide website. USDA takes seriously its responsibility to protect private information and after learning of the potential exposure, immediately took action to remove the information from the website. USDA is also offering credit monitoring services to protect the personal accounts of affected individuals, due to the potential that information was downloaded prior to removal. There is no evidence that this information has been misused.
Initially, USDA estimated that as many as 150,000 individuals might be affected. That number included all individuals whose identification number could possibly contain private information. On Friday, April 20, USDA narrowed the number of individuals who might be affected to 63,000. USDA staff continued analysis of the identification numbers throughout the weekend and determined that approximately 38,700 actually contain private information. This completes the review of records posted on the government-wide website in question.
The 38,700 people affected were awarded funds through the Farm Service Agency (FSA) or USDA Rural Development (RD). The FSA programs involve approximately 35,000 of the individuals and 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 involve approximately 3,700 individuals and 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.
USDA funding recipients whose personal information was exposed are being notified via mail and will be provided with instructions on how to register for credit monitoring. Any USDA funding recipient with questions may call 1-800-FED-INFO (1-800-333-4636) or visit USA.gov. The call center operates from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (EDT), Monday-Friday.
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