- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Victims of the Office of Personnel Management breach are being offered free credit and identity theft monitoring by way of a $133 million government contract awarded this week to an Oregon-based fraud protection firm.

Identity Theft Guard Solutions LLC of Portland was announced as the winner of a federal contract on Tuesday that calls for the company to watch over the estimated 21.5 million government employees and contractors whose data was stolen in the massive OPM hack earlier this year.

Through the arrangement, the company’s ID Experts faction will provide credit and identity monitoring, identity theft insurance and identity restoration services for three years — a value worth potentially $329 million, the government said.

“Millions of individuals, through no fault of their own, had their personal information stolen and we’re committed to standing by them, supporting them and protecting them against further victimization,” Beth Cobert, acting director of OPM, said in a statement. “And as someone whose own information was stolen, I completely understand the concern and frustration people are feeling.”

“I’m sorry about the concern this breach has caused,” she told journalists during a conference call late Tuesday, Roll Call reported.

While the hack suffered by the OPM earlier this year has compromised the personal information of millions of individuals who had undergone government background checks, Ms. Cobert acknowledged Tuesday that the majority of victims have not yet been notified.

The Department of Defense has been tasked with alerting victims of the breach and is expected to start the notification process at the end of September, she said.

OPM says it’s “highly likely” that individuals who underwent background checks through the agency during the last 15 years were impacted through two separate but related breaches first reported in June. Among the information that has been compromised are names, birth dates, home addresses and Social Security Numbers, as well as the fingerprint records of approximately 1.1 million people.

The U.S. has not formally attributed the hack to any specific actor, but the breach has been all but blamed on China, or individuals acting on Beijing’s behalf.

Earlier this week, top U.S. officials in the Obama administration told journalists on condition of anonymity that the White House is weighing whether to evoke a recently signed executive order to implement sanctions against China in the coming weeks.

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