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OPM Tells Feds How to Turn Off Those Sex Offender Notifications

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The notifications are part of protective services offered to victims of the OPM hack. The notifications are part of protective services offered to victims of the OPM hack.

When more than 20 million individuals had their personal information breached in a hack of data maintained by the Office of Personnel Management in 2015, the government decided it would make things right by offering a suite of protection services to the victims.

The benefits included the normal perks for hack victims: credit monitoring, identity theft insurance and restoration, and other ongoing observations for fraud. They also included, for those who received notifications their information was breached and signed up for the protection services, regular email updates on when registered sex offenders moved near their home addresses.

OPM and ID Experts, the company selected to provide the services to the impacted population, have not reported any instances of hackers using the information stolen during the breaches for nefarious purposes. While hack victims enrolled in the package would receive alerts for any suspicious credit activity or potential identity theft -- even if it the incident does not involve the OPM breach -- many of the notifications sent out so far have been sex offender alerts.

The process for turning those reports off is not as simple as a click of the mouse; in a recent update to the Frequently Asked Questions section of OPM’s website providing information on the hacks, the agency told enrollees they must call the service provider at 800-750-3004 and ask to no longer receive the notices. Think carefully before making your decision, however; once you opt to cease the sex offender alerts, it cannot be undone.

Asked recently by Government Executive what relevance notices of sex offenders in the neighborhood had to the breach of information such as Social Security numbers and work histories, ID Experts CEO Bob Gregg said his company included the information simply because it could and it wanted to provide enrollees with as much information as possible.

Gregg also said hack victims could still receive more benefits for a longer period of time, as OPM has informally kicked around the idea of expanding or extending the services offered. 

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Eric Katz writes about federal agency operations and management. His deep coverage of Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security, the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Postal Service has earned him frequent guest spots on national radio and television news programs. Eric joined Government Executive in the summer of 2012 and previously worked for The Financial Times. He is a graduate of The George Washington University.

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