A data breach of the Maine foster care program, through DHHS, may have exposed personal information of 2,100 residents.

The Maine Office of Information Technology announced Monday that the breach came as part of a system upgrade. During that process, a contractor with OIT posted information from a DHHS child welfare services database to a third-party website outside the state of Maine system. The file consisted of names, addresses, and Social Security numbers of people receiving foster care benefits, as well as the names of children and legal guardians of individuals participating in the program. Once OIT officials realized what had happened, they contacted the third-party website and had the information removed.

Letters have gone out in the mail, notifying anyone who may have been affected by the breach. They're being offered a year of credit and identity monitoring, and are being given information on other ways they can protect themselves.

Participants in Maine's foster care program who may have been affected can call the AllClear Response Center at (855)609-5573. The Response Center's hours are 9 a.m. until 9 p.m., Monday through Friday. Anyone affected by a data breach should consider placing a 90-day fraud alert on their credit reports with one of the three major credit reporting organizations. Once they notify one of the organizations, the other two will be notified automatically.

Mainers have the right to obtain an annual credit report from each of the three bureaus or to place a freeze on their credit reports, at no cost to them. Find more information on how to take these steps on the website for the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation's Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection. In addition, anyone who has concerns about potential identity theft can contact the Attorney General's office for Consumer Protection at (800) 436-2131.

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