Millions of student loan borrowers' personal info compromised

Millions of student loan borrowers' personal info compromised
A suspect is under arrest, as investigators piece together clues in the theft of social security numbers belonging to millions of student loan customers.

This involves the names, birth dates and social security numbers of more than three million people who took out student loans through the federal government- but some of you who got this notice about the burglary, may have tossed it out as junk.

The alert is from a nonprofit company called ECMC in Minnesota. Someone broke into the company's office in March and stole a safe containing computer backup disks with information on 3.3 million people who've taken out student loans.

The Educational Credit Management Corporation is one of many companies that oversees and guarantees federal students loans for higher education.

ECMC also keeps track whether you pay back the money so future creditors have a way of identifying borrowers who default on their loans.

It doesn't matter what schools you attended. In fact, some of the loans involved in the data theft date back as far as the 60s. The U.S. Department of Education requires ECMC to keep the records the indefinitely.

An ECMC spokesman says law enforcement has determined it's unlikely that the stolen data has been compromised in any way. The company says the data was recovered within 48 hours. A suspect has been charged, and investigators say other suspects are being sought in connection with the crime. ECMC also emphasizes that law enforcement officers have found no evidence that ECMC employees were involved.

ECMC is arranging for everyone in the stolen database to get 12 months of free monitoring at the three major credit bureaus. But you have to sign up by August 1. That's what the letters are all about. The letters were mailed out between late March and late May.

ECMC says even though there are no signs of compromise, they're encouraging everyone who's been notified to sign up for the Experian service and use the free protection that's being provided.

If you took out a government student loan, even a government loan processed through a bank, but are not sure whether you received the notification, you can contact ECMC's call center to find out whether your information was involved in the data theft and what you can do to prevent potential fraud.