Personal info of Georgia voters accidentally released; Secretary of State thinks identity info remains safe

Secretary of State Brian Kemp says registered voters in Georgia should stay vigilant for signs of fraud and identity theft after his office released personal information for more than 6 million people.

Kemp says the Social Security numbers, dates of birth and driver’s license numbers were inadvertently included in a voter file sent to political parties and media.

An alert issued Thursday says voters can seek a free credit report from the three official credit reporting agencies. The agencies also can create a fraud alert or security freeze, making it difficult for someone to apply for credit in a voter’s name.

Kemp warned against emails or phone calls offering credit monitoring from the Secretary of State’s office. The alert does not offer that service.

A hotline is available at (404) 654-6045.

News Release from Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp

On Friday, November 13, 2015, my office learned that voters’ personal information was inadvertently included on a statewide voter file that was sent to twelve groups on October 13, 2015.

As a standard practice, these twelve groups, comprised of Georgia’s news media and political parties, receive a computer disk with an updated list of all of Georgia’s registered voters every month. This information is available to them per existing Georgia law.

However, in October, a clerical error in the IT Division led to these discs containing personal identifying information that should not have been included. Other than the employee who made the error, this error was not known until Friday, November 13, 2015 when an organization that received a disc notified the Secretary of State’s office. The IT employee responsible has been fired for breaking internal rules governing the release of this information.

Upon learning of this mistake, my office took immediate action to retrieve the discs and to confirm that the recipients had not copied or otherwise disseminated the data.

All twelve discs have been accounted for or destroyed. Each recipient, including the Georgia Republican Party and the Georgia Democratic Party, has confirmed that the data was not retained or disseminated to any outside parties.

To reiterate, the Georgia Voter Registration System was not breached. The system has been and remains secure. This issue was caused by a clerical error that has been remedied. While information was included on those twelve discs that should not have been, we are confident that the information has now been secured.

I take full responsibility for this mistake and want to assure Georgia’s citizens that it is my top priority to protect their personal information. I have put in place additional safeguards to insure this situation does not happen again.

Brian Kemp has been Secretary of State since January 2010. Among the office’s wide-ranging responsibilities, the Secretary of State is charged with conducting secure, accessible, and fair elections, the registration of corporations, and the regulation of securities, charities, and professional license holders.

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