20,000 Washingtonians potentially affected by data breach at Nationwide Insurance

An October data breach in a Nationwide Insurance computer network resulted in personal information for thousands of Washingtonians being stolen, according to company officials.

"On October 3, 2012, a portion of our computer network that is used by Nationwide Insurance and Allied Insurance was criminally intruded upon by an unidentified perpetrator. We discovered the attack that day, and took immediate steps to contain the intrusion," Nationwide attorney Samuel Lee notified our office recently.

The company has said that more than 1.1 million people's personal information may have been affected. Some of them are not Nationwide customers. Apparently, some people who might have just gotten quotes, etc. are on the list of those who may have been affected. We've been contacted by some of these people, and since they're not Nationwide customers, they initially think the letter is some kind of scam or sales pitch for ID theft services.

"Although we are still investigating the incident, our initial analysis has indicated that the compromised information included individuals’ name and some combination of their Social Security number, driver’s license number and/or their date of birth and possibly their marital status, gender, and occupation, and the name and address of their employer," Lee wrote.

The attack was reported to law enforcement, including the FBI, who are investigating. Nationwide is sending notification letters to 20,916 people whose personal information may have been compromised. The company says it is tightening network security. It is also offering a year of free credit monitoring and identity theft protection services to those 20,916 people.

In the letter being sent out, the company apologizes for the data breach and says "we are not aware of any misuse of your information at this time."

Nationwide customers should watch for a letter in the mail, or they can call a special hotline the company has set up: 1-800-760-1125.

The state attorney general's office also maintains an excellent page with detailed tips on preventing and dealing with identity theft.

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