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Press Release

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

DOE Press Office
(850) 245-0413

Information Security Breach Reported at Florida College

Tallahassee, Fla., October 10, 2012 - The Division of Florida Colleges in the Florida Department of Education has been notified of an information security breach at Northwest Florida State College in Niceville involving employee and student records.

The college is reporting that the incident involves more than 3,000 employee records, some of which contain confidential financial information; approximately 76,000 Northwest College student records containing personal identification information; and approximately 200,000 records with information including names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, ethnicity, and gender for students across the state who were eligible for Bright Futures scholarships for the 2005-06 and 2006-07 school years.

Local, state and federal agencies are investigating the incident. The department is working closely with the college to determine the extent of the breach, ensure information security mechanisms are strengthened and the vulnerability closed down, and that notification of those affected begins as quickly as possible.

"We want to be sure that we fully understand the situation and provide accurate information to those impacted," said Florida College System Chancellor Randy Hanna. "While some of the contact information is dated, we will be trying to reach every student whose records may have been captured."

While the incident is being investigated, individuals who notice improper use of their Social Security number and believe they may be the victim of identity theft should contact the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov/idtheft or call 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338). Affected persons may also call the local sheriff's office and file a police report of identity theft, keeping a copy of the police report.

To protect themselves from the possibility of identity theft, they may also place a free fraud alert on their credit files. A fraud alert notifies creditors to contact individuals before opening new accounts in their name. Call any one of the three major credit reporting agencies at the numbers below to place a fraud alert and receive letters from the agencies with instructions on how to receive a free copy of their credit report.

  • Experian - 1-888-397-3742
  • Equifax - 1-888-766-0008
  • TransUnion - 1-800-680-7289

Information about the incident is available at www.nwfsc.edu/security/. Students who have attended or are attending Northwest Florida State College should contact the college for more information. Bright Futures scholars from 2005-06 and 2006-07 who attended other Florida colleges or universities may call 1-800-688-0656.