AOPA President Phil Boyer fired off a blistering letter to the Department of Transportation's Inspector General after the loss of government laptop computer exposed tens of thousands of Florida pilots to the risk of identity theft. The letter was a follow-up to Boyer's phone conversation with the inspector general last week right after AOPA learned about the incident.
The laptop, stolen from a government agent's car, included the names, addresses, and social security numbers of some 40,000 pilots, all the information a thief needs to obtain fraudulent credit cards or loans.
Boyer told Acting DOT Inspector General Todd Zinser that AOPA members were, "outraged that such sensitive personal information would be left unsecured."
Ironically, the FAA has stopped using social security numbers for new pilot certificate numbers, allows pilots to change their old certificate numbers, and removed certificate numbers from their Web site, precisely to protect pilots' privacy rights.
"This underscores the need for your office to protect pilots from this information being compromised," Boyer told the IG.
"I strongly urge you to take the necessary steps to recover the laptop and prevent this type of security breech from being repeated in the future."
August 18, 2006