DOC employees receive ID theft alert

September 14, 2006

By Amanda Reavy, Copley News Service

The Illinois Department of Corrections has asked its employees to take precautions against identity theft after a department report that contained some workers' personal information recently was found outside the agency's grounds.

The report, which hasn't been publicly identified, contained the names, salaries and Social Security numbers of what the department characterized as "many" of its employees.

Corrections spokesman Derek Schnapp said Wednesday he couldn't release how many employee names were on the document or when or where it was found.

Schnapp did say the document is back in the agency's possession.

"We are investigating, and we did alert Illinois State Police when this occurred. IDOC has their own investigative unit as well, and investigators right now believe there was no criminal intention. No foul play," he said. "We put out a memo for cautionary reasons to let employees know what occurred and include safeguard steps (to protect their identity).

"We want to err on the side of caution," he added.

A memo from Corrections Director Roger Walker was sent Monday to employees alerting them that the report "containing the names, salaries and Social Security numbers of many Department employees" had been found "where it should not have been."

The memo instructs employees to keep an eye on their credit card accounts for any abnormal activity as well as any suspicious items that may appear on their bills. It also gives information on how to get a free copy of their credit report and how to contact the fraud departments of the three major credit-reporting companies.

After issuance of the memo, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31, which represents many state workers, criticized Corrections' response to the matter, according to an entry on the Capitol Fax blog.

A letter from the council to Walker that can be found on AFSCME's Web site states: "Since the increased financial risk that employees now face is the responsibility of the Department, IDOC should immediately commit to hold employees harmless for any losses that result, as is the standard business practice of responsible employers when employee information is compromised."

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