November 8, 2006
When the theft of a government computer put pilots at risk for identity theft, AOPA members were among the first to know.
AOPA sent a special ePilot e-mail alert to the affected Florida pilots even before the news was out to the general public. Many AOPA members rely on ePilot airspace bulletins to warn them of temporary flight restrictions (TFRs) in their area. If you are a member, AOPA can send you an message whenever there is something you need to know. Just sign up for our weekly ePilot newsletter.
A government laptop computer that includes the names, addresses, and social security numbers of some 42,800 pilots living in Florida was recently stolen. That personal information could be used without your permission to commit fraud or other crimes. You could be hit with huge credit card bills or damage to your credit rating.
To protect yourself, you may want to contact any one of the three credit reporting companies to place a fraud alert on your credit report. You should also be wary of any phone calls or e-mails from someone who is claiming to be an FAA or other government official and is asking for personal information.
You can find more information on protecting yourself from identity theft on the Federal Trade Commission's ID Theft Web site.
The stolen laptop belonged to a special agent with the Department of Transportation's Office of the Inspector General investigating the use of fraudulent information to obtain pilot certificates or commercial drivers' licenses. The password-protected databases in the laptop include personally identifiable information including individuals' names, addresses, dates of birth, social security numbers, and pilot certificate numbers. Even if your pilot certificate number is not your social security number, your social security number is still in the database.
The laptop was stolen July 27 from a government vehicle in Doral, Florida. The Department of Transportation thinks the thief was after the computer, not the data. The DOT will be sending you official notice of the theft.
For more information, see the DOT's Web site, or call the toll-free hotline, 800/424-9071.
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