US student loans guarantor loses data of 3.3m people

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Data containing names, addresses, Social Security numbers and dates of birth stolen.

The American equivalent of the student loan company has reported a data loss of records of 3.3 million people.

The Educational Credit Management Corporation (ECMC), which guarantees federal student loans, reported that personal data on about 3.3 million people nationwide has been stolen from its headquarters in Minnesota.

It reported that the data included names, addresses, Social Security numbers and dates of birth of borrowers, but no financial or bank account information. ECMC confirmed that the data was on ‘portable media' that was stolen sometime last weekend. Its spokesman Paul Kelash would not specify to the Associated Press what was taken, citing the ongoing investigation, but said there were no indications of any misuse of the data.

Richard Boyle, president and CEO of ECMC, said in a statement: “We deeply regret that this incident occurred and the stress it has caused our borrowers and our partners and are doing everything we can to help protect our borrowers' identity and personal information.”

ECMC is working with law enforcement, while the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is leading the investigation. The phone system at ECMC directs users to speak to Experian as a first option.

Rik Ferguson, senior security advisor at Trend Micro, claimed that it would not surprise him at all if it was a USB that was lost. He said: “This is another example of losing data when it should have been stored securely and encrypted. This is the latest in a long and ignoble line of oversights.”

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