CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Thousands of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools job applicants are being encouraged to watch out for identify theft after their personal information was exposed without their consent when CMS created a database for the district.
State law requires any business or agency that exposes someone's information to notify them as soon as possible.
Roughly 7,600 people received letters alerting them that a private contractor has access to their names, addresses and Social Security numbers because they applied for jobs with CMS.
"You're seeing all of these breaches happen more regularly, (and) you don't want to have to be fighting through that in the aftermath," said Tom Bartholomy.
CEO of South Piedmont Better Business Bureau Tom Bartholomy said he understands the concern but believes that the overall risk for the applicants is low. The district informed applicants that an employee disclosed applicant information to an outside contractor before obtaining the proper authorization, and the information was included in a CMS database.
CMS officials released a statement about the incident, "CMS has worked collaboratively with the vendor to ensure the sensitive information was destroyed and has taken measures to prevent any additional release of information."
"They know who they were doing business with. Yes, that shouldn't have happened, there is exposure that happened, but it’s not like someone hacked into Target," Bartholomy said.
Bartholomy said the incident is a warning to be more skeptical about sharing your Social Security number, even for a job.
He said that thanks to stronger credit card security efforts, scammers are mining data for other ways to steal your identities.
"They are putting more attention on banking information and Social Security numbers, (and) that means we really have to tighten down as consumers to make sure we really are protecting that information," he said.
Bartholomy encouraged consumers to ask the following questions before sharing their Social Security numbers:
- Ask why the agency needs your Social Security number.
- Ask how will the agency will use the number.
- Ask how will the agency store and secure your Social Security number.
- Ask how will the agency dispose of your Social Security number?
For more information on how state law mandates agencies to handle an information security breach from the North Carolina Department of Justice click here.
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