The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services announced this week that it has been the victim of a data breach. The government agency oversees concealed-weapons licensing and hackers successfully stole private information of more than 16,000 gun owners.

The agency said, “Names of 16,190 concealed weapon licensees, which is less than [1] percent of [the] total number of concealed licensees, may have been obtained; however, no other individually identifying information of the concealed weapon licensees was compromised. Only concealed weapon licensees who renewed online may have had their names accessed. The department’s Office of Inspector General determined that there is no risk of identity theft to these licensees.”

To make matters worse, an additional 469 customers had their Social Security numbers stolen. Before 2009, the department gave customers renewing licenses online the option of using their Social Security number or Federal Employer Identification Number when filling out the form. The department stopped allowing Social Security numbers to be used in 2009, or there most likely would be more customers’ numbers stolen in this breach.

You would think entering sensitive information on a government website would be secure. This just shows how a data breach can happen to any site at any time, no one is safe.

This incident happened in Florida. However, it could happen in any state in the U.S.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is telling anyone concerned about their personal information to take these steps:

  • Obtain a free credit report – Click here to get your free annual credit report.
  • Place a fraud alert on your credit report if you believe your information has been compromised.
  • Closely monitor financial information.
  • Report any suspicious activity to local law enforcement.
  • Check credit reports and credit card statements periodically.