Watchdog: FEMA wrongly released personal data of victims

Watchdog: FEMA wrongly released personal data of victims

WASHINGTON (AP) — A government watchdog has found the Federal Emergency Management Agency wrongly released to a contractor the personal information of 2.3 million survivors of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and the California wildfires in 2017.

Homeland Security Department's Office of Inspector General found the breach occurred when FEMA was working with a contractor that helps provide temporary housing to those affected by disasters.

Some information, like names, last four digits of a Social Security number are required to confirm eligibility. But FEMA also provided the contractor bank names, electronic funds transfer numbers and bank transit numbers.

The watchdog says the victims could be vulnerable to identity theft.

FEMA officials say they are changing how they deliver information to avoid giving too much information and it will be completed by 2020.