In December 2020, a successful phishing attack was carried out against USAGM. The bad actor gained access to an agency email inbox containing Personally Identifiable Information (PII) of current and former USAGM, VOA, and OCB employees who worked for the agency between 2013-2020.
The PII involved includes the full names and Social Security numbers of affected employees and may include the names and Social Security numbers of their beneficiaries and dependents.
We take the protection of your personal information seriously and already have taken aggressive steps to prevent similar occurrences. As soon as the USAGM IT Security team detected the unauthorized access, it secured the breached email account and began its assessment of the extent and impact of the data breach. Agency leadership then notified employees of the breach and provided timely information about steps employees could take to protect their identity and credit. USAGM IT also provided employees with tips to identify and prevent future phishing attempts and fast-tracked its rollout of Multifactor Authentication (MFA) to the agency’s Office 365 email, SharePoint, and OneDrive environments.
USAGM continues to explore and implement additional tools to detect and prevent the loss of the sensitive and confidential information handled by agency employees. To help protect your identity, we are offering complimentary access to Experian IdentityWorksSM for one year. If you believe there was fraudulent use of your information as a result of this incident and would like to discuss how you may be able to resolve those issues, please reach out to an Experian agent. If, after discussing your situation with an agent, it is determined that identity restoration support is needed, then an Experian Identity Restoration agent is available to work with you to investigate and resolve each incident of fraud that occurred from the date of the incident (including, as appropriate, helping you with contacting credit grantors to dispute charges and close accounts; assisting you in placing a freeze on your credit file with the three major credit bureaus; and assisting you with contacting government agencies to help restore your identity to its proper condition).
Please note that Identity Restoration is available for one year from the date of the notification letter sent to employees in April 2021. The Terms and Conditions for this offer are located at www.ExperianIDWorks.com/restoration. While identity restoration assistance is immediately available, we also encourage employees to activate the fraud detection tools available through Experian IdentityWorks as a complimentary one-year membership.
This product provides superior identity detection and resolution of identity theft. To start monitoring your personal information, please follow the steps below: Ensure that you enroll by July 31, 2021 (Your code will not work after this date.)
- Visit the Experian IdentityWorks website to enroll: https://www.experianidworks.com/gsa3b
- Provide your activation code: (PROVIDED IN LETTER SENT TO EMPLOYEES)
- If you have questions about the product or need assistance with Identity Restoration that arose as a result of this incident, please contact Experian’s customer care team at (855) 525-2743 by July 31, 2021.
- Be prepared to provide engagement number provided in the notification letter sent to employees as proof of eligibility for the Identity Restoration services by Experian.
ADDITIONAL DETAILS REGARDING YOUR ONE YEAR EXPERIAN IDENTITYWORKS MEMBERSHIP
A credit card is not required for enrollment in Experian IdentityWorks. You can contact Experian immediately regarding any fraud issues, and you have access to the following features once you enroll in Experian IdentityWorks:
- Experian credit report at sign-up: See what information is associated with your credit file.
- Credit Monitoring: Actively monitors Experian, Equifax, and Transunion files for indicators of fraud.
- Identity Restoration: Identity Restoration specialists are immediately available to help you address credit and non-credit related fraud.
- Experian IdentityWorks ExtendCARETM: You receive the same high-level of Identity Restoration support even after your Experian IdentityWorks membership has expired.
- Up to $5 Million Identity Theft Insurance*: Provides coverage for certain costs and $500,000 coverage of unauthorized electronic fund transfers.
If you have not already done so, please consider taking the following protective steps recommended by the Federal Trade Commission:
- Place a fraud alert on your credit file. A fraud alert tells creditors to contact you before they open any new accounts or change your existing accounts. Call any one of the three major credit bureaus. As soon as one credit bureau confirms your fraud alert, the others are notified to place fraud alerts. The initial fraud alert stays on your credit report for one year and can be optionally renewed after one year.
- Equifax: equifax.com or 1-800-685-1111
- Experian: experian.com or 1-888-397-3742
- TransUnion: transunion.com or 1-888-909-8872
- Get your credit reports from annualcreditreport.com. Check for any accounts or charges you don’t recognize. Even if you do not find any suspicious activity on your initial credit reports, check your credit reports periodically. Thieves may hold stolen information to use at different times. Checking your credit reports periodically can help you spot problems and address them quickly if your personal information has been misused.
- Consider contacting the major credit bureaus at the telephone numbers above to place a free credit freeze on your credit file. A credit freeze means potential creditors cannot get your credit report. That makes it less likely that an identity thief can open new accounts in your name.
- Be aware of and report tax scams. Try to file your taxes early—before a scammer can. Tax identity theft happens when someone uses your Social Security number to get a tax refund or a job. Respond right away to letters from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Also, DO NOT believe anyone who calls and says you will be arrested unless you pay for taxes and debt—even if they have all or part of your Social Security number, or they say they are from the IRS. Scams like this may be reported to the IRS.
The agency’s IT professionals are working hard to protect those affected by this breach and, with everyone’s help, to prevent future breaches.
Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.