3.3 million identities stolen – this time from the Educational Credit Management Corp, the folks who guarantee many federal student loans. Names, addresses, Social Security numbers and other personal data on borrowers were taken. It’s not as big as the 45 million credit and debit card numbers stolen from TJ Maxx but it’s arguably more sensitive information.

According to ECMC, the stolen information was on a portable media device. In the words of their spokesman Paul Kelash, “It was simple, old-fashioned theft. It was not a hacker incident.” More proof that the simple threats are still the most serious. The company does use key-card control of their physical facility but has not yet released how the theft was accomplished. It’s rarely hard to tailgate into a building then walk out with a thumbdrive.

Notices have not gone out yet so we don’t know if it’s just current loan holders or if the breach included information on closed accounts as well. ECMC is the designated guarantor for loans in Oregon, Virginia and Connecticut which I interpret to mean that you may be at risk if you got your loans through schools in those states. But the way those documents get shared around, any of us with loans could be at risk.

If you haven’t checked your credit report lately, this is a good excuse to do so. You are eligible for a free copy of your credit report every 12 months. Be sure to go to the official site (not the deceptive site with the goofy adds and “free” in the domain name). And remember that you can check just one of the three credit reports, saving the other two for 4 and 8 months later respectively.

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