City of Austin employees’ personal information may have been hacked

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — An email account belonging to a member of the City of Austin Employees’ Retirement systems (COAERS) was compromised, potentially exposing the personal information of other members, according to officials within the company.

The system is responsible for administering retirement, disability and death benefit programs for full-time employees within the City of Austin. It’s not run by the city, but all employees are required to use it.

The hack occurred on Aug. 6, but employees were notified beginning on Sept. 6, after an investigation was launched.

Private information that could have been accessed in this data security breach varies by members, but could potentially include names, addresses, dates of birth and Social Security numbers of both members, as well as some survivor annuitants and beneficiaries, according to a press release.

At this point, COAERS officials say there is no indication that anyone has been affected. It is also unclear whether this hack is related to the recent ransomware attacks which have targeted other local governments in Texas.

“This did happen and it is unfortunate, but we are helping our members by providing credit monitoring services,” said Julie Barschow, a communication specialist with COAERS.

KXAN spoke with one City of Austin employee under the promise of anonymity. He asked to be called Kenneth. Kenneth received a notice on Friday sharing that he could be potentially affected by the security breach.

He is afraid the more than $150,000 he has saved throughout his career could be at risk.

“It really hit home, my long term goals could be jeopardized,” Kenneth said. “We want to have something to fall back on and not have to turn around and start all over again.”

COAERS has offered a year’s worth of free credit monitoring in return. It’s also issued an apology, saying they are taking steps to prevent this from happening again.

“They are still asking us to trust them. Well, we already trusted you in the beginning and our information got compromised, so now you want me to trust you further? I have a hard time with that,” Kenneth said.

Those who feel they may have been affected by this cyberattack is eligible to receive free online crediting provided by Transunion. Click here to find out how you can take advantage.

Tonight on KXAN News at 10 p.m., Alex Caprariello will share the impact this has had on one City of Austin worker.

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