4,000 people at risk of ID theft, state says

September 16, 2006

By Kim Norris, Free Press Staff Writer


The Michigan Department of Community Health will offer identity theft protection to more than 4,000 current and former Michigan residents who have been participating in a scientific study because an apparent theft may have put personal information at risk.

A flash drive -- a portable storage device containing names, current addresses, telephone, Social Security numbers and birth dates of the people participating in the study -- has been missing from a secured floor in an MDCH building since Aug. 4 and is presumed to have been stolen, MDCH spokesman T.J. Bucholz said.

The missing data did not include any health information, medical records or laboratory information.

The study has been tracking the long-term effects of exposure to high levels of polybrominated biphenyls, a flame retardant that got mixed into cattle feed in the 1970s and was ingested by Michiganders in beef and milk.

All 4,000 participants in the study were sent notification letters on Tuesday. Those who believe their identity is at risk will have their credit monitored for one year at no cost to them.

Janet Olszewski, MDCH director, said MDCH is tightening its security protocols and has referred the case to the Michigan State Police for investigation.

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