Two western New York electric utilities are offering customers one year of free credit monitoring after a software contractor allowed unauthorized access to personal customer information.
New York State Electric and Gas and Rochester Gas and Electric say the compromised records include Social Security numbers, dates of birth and, in some cases, financial institution account numbers.
In a letter from NYSEG and RG&E, president Mark S. Lynch wrote that while there is no evidence that the compromised information has been misused, the companies are notifying customers as a precautionary measure to ensure that they have "the information and tools necessary to help detect and prevent any misuse of personal information." According to the companies, the security breach was a result of a software contractor employee mistake and had no malicious intent behind it.
The companies have consulted with law enforcement as well as with computer forensics experts, while the New York State Public Service Commission will perform its own investigation of the security breach.
According to a press release from the Department of Public Service, its investigation will look at the adequacy with which the companies plan to identify, communicate with and assist any affected customers. The investigation will also seek to understand the root causes of the breach as well as the measures put in place to protect against such a violation.
In order to provide support for affected customers, the companies have arranged for Experian, a global information services company, to offer customers free credit monitoring.
NYSEG and RG&E have 1.2 million electric and 560,000 gas customers, including students living off-campus in Geneseo. The companies have not yet said how many accounts may have been compromised.
Junior Hillary Rich, an off-campus student living on North Street and RG&E customer, received the letter notifying customers of the breach.
"Although it is frustrating to have your information at risk like this … identity theft is such a ubiquitous problem that I can't blame RG&E entirely for something like this happening, and I appreciate their offer for the free credit monitoring," she said.