Social Security numbers, birth dates and bank account numbers could be in the hands of identity thieves following a data breach reported by the New York State Electric & Gas company.
After NYSEG’s announcement, the state Public Service Commission said it is launching an investigation into the situation.
According to a news release from NYSEG, an employee at a software development firm working for NYSEG and Rochester Gas and Electric, both subsidiaries of Iberdrola USA, allowed unauthorized access to a customer information system.
In response to the breach, NYSEG contacted law enforcement and is now offering its customers the option of getting a credit monitoring service free of charge.
“We take our responsibility to protect customer information very seriously and we have robust information technology security measures in place,” NYSEG President Mark S. Lynch said in the release.
NYSEG provides gas and electricity service across a wide swath of upstate New York, including parts of Saratoga and Schoharie counties. Statewide, the company provides electricity to 878,000 customers and natural gas to about 261,000 customers, according to its website.
In its announcement Monday, the company said there hasn’t been any evidence of malicious intent or misuse of the data.
NYSEG spokesman Clay Ellis on Monday said the individual who had access to the information as part of his job provided access to that data to another, unauthorized person.
It’s unclear what that other person did with that information, he said, and NYSEG is investigating the situation.
Ellis said this is the first data breach he can recall at the company in the nearly 30 years he’s worked there.
In response to the news, the state Department of State’s Consumer Protection Division posted several tips for customers concerned with what to do in the event their private information has been compromised, including how to place a fraud alert or security freeze on a credit file.
The Consumer Protection website is located at http://www.dos.ny.gov/consumerprotection/.
NYSEG customers with concerns are being asked to contact the help line at 1-877-736-4495 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekends.