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Published: Wednesday, 7/11/2007

671,109 additional Ohioans at risk from stolen storage device

BY JIM PROVANCE
BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU

COLUMBUS Another 671,109 Ohioans have been added to the list of people whose personal information may be at risk because of last month s theft of a state computer backup storage device.

In all, the number of Ohioans with some form of personal information on the device has climbed into the neighborhood of 1 million.

Gov. Ted Strickland again said there has been no indication that data on the device has been accessed and used. But his information technology director said this morning that the independent consultant the state hired to assist it was able to independently decipher the data from the device s twin still in the state s possession.

"He s actually in line with our conclusions that it would be very difficult for someone without special knowledge and understanding to actually access that piece of information," said Director Steve Edmundson. "He s very skilled in this area, so you would expect him to be able to gain access to this information."

The governor this morning added to the list the names, Social Security numbers, and check amounts of 576,000 more people who had not cashed state or school income tax refund checks issued from 2005 through May 29, 2007. That s in addition to 225,000 similar individuals identified three weeks ago.

Also added to the list this morning were the names, Social Security numbers, and, in some cases, bank account information of 8,123 former state workers and the names and tax identification numbers of 86,986 vendors.

The state has gradually expanded the list of affected people as it continues to review the on-site twin of the data storage device that a 22-year-old college intern had been asked to take home as a security precaution. The state has offered taxpayer-funded identity theft monitoring services to all current and former state employees, their dependents, vendors, and others whose data is on the device taken from the intern s car on the night of June 10.

The Ohio Highway Patrol said three cases of identity theft have been detected among those being monitored, but it said the state has no reason to believe they are related to the theft of the data device.

Those who believe they fall into any of the categories of people whose information may be at risk may contact the state at 1-800-267-4474, or use a searchable Internet database at www.ohio.gov/idprotect.

To date, 58,391 people have signed up for the state-funded identity protection service, about 16.5 percent of those identified prior to this morning.

Contact Jim Provance at: jprovance@theblade.com or 614-221-0496.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com.



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