An employee of the state agency emailed the names and Social Security numbers of 4,457 customers from the GDOL’s Cobb-Cherokee Career Center at 465 Big Shanty Road, Marietta, said GDOL spokesman John Ard on Friday.
Most of the victims are believed to have been clients of the state who were receiving unemployment or other benefits.
The compromising email went out “because of an employee error,” Ard said. The employee has been suspended pending an investigation.
The “accidental communication” was identified within 10 minutes, and all recipients were asked to delete the communication and the attached document, according to Sam Hall, communications director of the Georgia Department of Labor.
“It is important to note that this inadvertent disclosure, while unfortunate, is not a systemic issue, nor the consequence of an external breach of our data security measures,” Hall said.
The Department of Labor will offer free credit monitoring services to each customer whose information was leaked. Hall said GDOL will be contacting each victim by email and by postal mail.
Equifax, headquartered in Atlanta, will assist the residents who are now at risk for identity theft.
Michele Cacdac-Jones, a spokeswoman for Equifax, said compromised personal information can be used to open credit cards under a victim’s name.
“If you are offered free identity protection services after a breach, use them,” Cacdac-Jones said.
A list of tips by Equifax advises customers to check credit reports for incorrect names and addresses that might appear to be clerical errors, but could be thieves opening new lines of credit with that information.
“Identity thieves may not use your personal information right away — sometimes they can take up to a year or more,” Cacdac-Jones said.
That means months of vulnerability for the victims, who will have to check and recheck their credit.