Students' data was on stolen Medicaid laptop.
UXBRIDGE -- Parents whose children received services in Uxbridge public schools that were partially covered by the state Medicaid program are being encouraged to request a security freeze on their children's credit reports after a laptop containing personal information was stolen from a Medicaid vendor's vehicle.
Kevin M. Carney, superintendent of schools, sent a cover letter to affected families Monday with information from the vendor, Multi-State Billing Services of Somersworth, N.H., on how the breach occurred and what should be done to protect children from identity theft.
The Medicaid data records included information on students throughout the school system, from kindergarten through 12th grade.
Thomas Champion, a spokesman for Multi-State Billing Services, said, "The likelihood of exposure appears at this moment to be quite low.''
Nineteen school districts in Massachusetts and one in Vermont were affected, Mr. Champion said.
The affected districts in Central Massachusetts, besides Uxbridge, are Ashburnham-Westminster Regional, Milford, Northboro, Northboro-Southboro Regional, Southboro and Sutton.
Mr. Carney said that while there is no indication that the information was actually compromised, the school district and the vendor recommended that parents take precautionary measures.
According to a letter co-signed by Mr. Carney and Daniel Courter, general counsel for Multi-State Billing Services, a Multi-State laptop was stolen from a locked vehicle on May 28. The laptop was password protected but not encrypted. The police believe the theft was random.
The laptop contained such personal information as each child's name, date of birth, Medicaid ID and Social Security number.
Parents were encouraged to request a security freeze for their children from the following three credit agencies: Equifax (888-567-8688, www.equifax.com), Experian (888-243-6951, www.experian.com) and Trans Union (800-680-7289, www.transunion.com).
A security freeze on a credit file greatly reduces the chance that someone could open a credit account in someone else's name. It prohibits a credit reporting agency from releasing any information from a credit report without written authorization, the letter explained.
Because the children aren't actual victims of identity theft, the credit agencies may charge up to $5 each time to place, temporarily lift or permanently remove a security freeze.
Multi-State Billing will reimburse costs related to security freezes for the next three years. Information about reimbursement can be obtained by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or phoning (855) 285-7433.
"In no way was any Uxbridge administrator or staff member involved, nor did anyone from my administration lose a laptop,'' Mr. Carney said.
He wanted to help communicate with Uxbridge students' families after the district received word of the breach last week, "not to be a middleman, but we're the people they know.''
Mr. Carney said he wanted to work with other district superintendents who may have also been affected to make sure potential security breaches of the sort don't happen again.
Further questions within the Uxbridge district may be directed to Mr. Carney or Carol Riccardi-Gahan, pupil services director, at (508) 278-8648.
Contact Susan Spencer at email@example.com.
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|Publication:||Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)|
|Date:||Jun 25, 2014|
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