More than 81,000 Florida CDL holders will receive warnings from federal officials that their personal information was compromised when a laptop used in investigating fraudulent licenses was stolen from a government vehicle.
The U.S. Department of Transportation Inspector General’s office issued letters Aug. 9 that informed CDL holders their information was among that of 133,000 Florida residents listed on the laptop. “The laptop is password-protected, and it is unlikely that the perpetrators stole it based on any knowledge of its data contents,” wrote Barbara Barnet, special agent in charge of the OIG’s Miami Regional Investigations Office.
The laptop contained databases that included names, Social Security numbers, birthdates and addresses of 80,667 Miami-Dade County CDL holders and 42,792 Florida airline pilots. It also held that same information for 9,005 driver’s licenses holders and 491 CDL holders who received licenses from the Largo licensing examining facility near Tampa. The laptop did not include financial or medical information.
The lists were used in investigating the use of false information to obtain licenses; it was not a list of individuals under investigation, but simply a list of CDL holders. Miami-Dade CDL holders who obtained their licenses after April 2003 and drivers who obtained their personal driver’s licenses or CDLs from the Largo facility after July 2005 are not affected.
The letter recommends that affected CDL holders contact one of the three major credit reporting bureaus and request that a fraud alert be placed. They also should monitor bank and credit-card statements and contact their financial institutions to check for suspicious activity.
They also should be wary of anyone who contacts them claiming to be from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration or any other agency and asking for personal information or verification of it. Anyone who is so contacted, whether by telephone or e-mail, should report it immediately to a hotline that has been set up at (800) 424-9071.
The Tampa-area driver’s licensing data was used as part of an ongoing investigation involving fraud at the licensing facility, which recently resulted in a guilty plea. Federal officials did not elaborate, but the day before the theft, Marta Carina Pinto, a former driver’s license examiner, pleaded guilty to conspiring to produce and transfer unlawful Florida licenses and CDLs. Pinto, who was with the department 17 years, is believed to have produced 80 to 100 licenses for illegal aliens.
The OIG and the Miami-Dade police are offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the computer’s return. The OIG stated it had taken steps to ensure that no other OIG laptops or portable media devices assigned to employees contain such data.