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FEMA notifies disaster survivors of possible privacy breach affecting 2.5 million people

Posted: 12:03 PM, Sep 10, 2019
Updated: 2019-09-10 12:06:14-04
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(WTXL) — Hurricane Michael survivors who took part of the Transitional Housing Assistance (TSA) Program after the storm may have had their information shared by FEMA.

The program provided hotel rooms to survivors who weren't able to go home for an extended period of time. FEMA relies on contractor assistance to administer the program, which involves payment directly to lodging providers.

In March 2019, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General reported that FEMA had unnecessarily overshared sensitive, personally identifiable information of some disaster survivors with its contractor that supports its TSA program.

In a letter sent to survivors on Sept. 3 , FEMA representatives informed affected survivors that their banking and home address information was impacted.

The letter indicates that the breach has impacted more than 2.5 million people since 2008, meaning other disaster areas were also impacted. Additionally, of the total 2.5 million impacted individuals, approximately 1.8 million individuals also had their banking information overshared with the contractor.

"Out of an abundance of caution, FEMA will provide credit monitoring services for a period of 18 months to affected survivors who request the service," FEMA wrote in a news release. "Instructions on how to contact FEMA, request free credit reporting, or register for free credit monitoring will be identified in a FEMA notification letter sent today [September 3] to affected disaster survivors."

For more information, visit the FEMA website at www.fema.gov/survivor-privacy-incident .