California State Retirees Hit by Data Breach: More than 770,000 Impacted

  • By Steven
  • Jun 27, 2023
california state retirees hit by data breach
"CalPERS headquarters at Lincoln Plaza in Sacramento" by Coolcaesar is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Both CalPERS and CalSTRS are agencies that manage retirement funds and health benefits for retired California teachers, government employees, and more types of public service employees. These organizations handle a huge amount of personal and financial data for teachers and other individuals, and they even handle pensions for them. That's why it's so upsetting to learn that both CalPERS and CalSTRS were impacted by a recent data breach. The breach was on PBI Research Services, but the data was for these government organizations. 

How Did the Attack Occur?

A hacker gang targeted PBI Research Services, an organization managing all the data for the CalPERS and CalSTRS organizations experienced a data breach on June 6, 2023. At that time, it was clear attackers were breaking into the company's files and accessing data. On June 9, 2023, the company confirmed information was being accessed, and by June 22, 2023, it was clear exactly what sort of information was being taken from the organization. The breach has the potential to impact more than 770,000 California retirees and could lead to some serious credit and financial problems in the future. 

What Information Was Viewed or Stolen?

The hackers gained access to first and last names, Social Security Numbers, addresses, birth dates, and more personal information about the different retirees involved in this breach. The information gained is enough to do real harm to these individuals, and it is a concerning problem that experts are currently working on. 

How Did PBI, CalPERS, and CalSTRS Admit to the Breach?

PBI Research Services first notified CalPERS and CalSTRS about the potential data breach on June 6, 2023. After a direct notification about the breach, experts were brought in to fully investigate the incident and determine the full extent of the damage. After a complete investigation, letters were sent out to everyone believed to be impacted by the breach starting on June 22, 2023. Since so many people were put at risk by the breach, it will take several days to fully mail out the letters to everyone. 

What Will Become of the Stolen Information?

It's unclear how this personal data will be used after the data breach. The attackers could easily launch identity theft attacks on the involved individuals, but we have no way of knowing what they will actually do. Knowing there is a threat of personal attacks, phishing attacks, and other data-based attacks, it's essential that involved individuals take steps to protect themselves as soon as possible. 

What Should Affected Parties Do in the Aftermath of the Breach?

Once you receive your letter from PBI, CalPERS, or CalSTRS, use the included information to get credit monitoring and identity theft protection services to begin protecting yourself. These services are free to use for at least 12 months, and they give you a way to monitor what's happening with your data. Make sure you are receiving updates from the credit monitoring service and take action to close accounts or freeze your credit if you're alerted to a strange change on your credit. 

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