By Jon Ortiz
California officials said Thursday that the state has lost sensitive personal data for hundreds of thousands of individuals, including names, Social Security and driver license numbers.
The Department of Child Support Services said data for some 800,000 parents, guardians and children on special storage devices went missing in transit between Colorado and California.
"We have no indication that there has been any breach," said department spokeswoman Connie DaMant.
The lost data involves a little less than one-fifth of the 4.3 million people in the 1.4 million cases the department tracks to make sure the children receive court-ordered financial and medical support.
There's little risk that the information could be compromised, since it was stored on uniquely formatted data cartridges, said Christine Lally, spokeswoman for the state's Technology Agency.
"It's not like if you or I found these on the street that we could pop them into our computer," Lally said.
Iron Mountain Inc., a firm that specializes in transporting and storing sensitive corporate data and documents, contracted with Fed Ex to return the cartridges from an IBM facility in Colorado. The state had shipped them there as part of an exercise in disaster preparedness.
The department learned March 12 that the cartridges were lost.
Child Support Services is notifying by mail anyone potentially affected. It also has posted information on its www.childsup.ca.gov website and set up a toll-free hotline, (866) 904-7674.
Although officials say there's little chance of a breach, they're still recommending that anyone affected put a fraud alert on credit cards, watch bank accounts closely, examine benefits statements from health insurers and review credit reports.