Personal Data of 2 Million Disaster Victims Botched by FEMA

  • In Business
  • 2019-03-23 14:46:14Z
  • By Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency improperly released the personal data of some 2.3 million survivors of hurricane and wildfire disasters to a contractor, the Department of Homeland Security's internal watchdog said late Friday.

Personal details including individuals' home addresses and bank account numbers -- data that exposes victims to potential identity theft and fraud -- were improperly given to a contractor hired by FEMA to provide temporary housing to victims of hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria and California wildfires in 2017, according to a memo released on Friday by the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General.

FEMA provided more information than necessary to the vendor and has since taken steps to correct the error, FEMA spokeswoman Lizzie Litzow said in an emailed statement. In addition, there's no indication that any of the 2.3 million people's personal data has been compromised, she said.

The disclosures were made "in direct violation of Federal and DHS requirements," and the watchdog recommended FEMA take action to prevent improper releases in the future. More than 20 types of "unnecessary" information was released by the agency, including six "sensitive" data types. The report didn't name the contractor.

In a response included in the report, FEMA said it concurred with the recommendations and was taking "corrective actions."

"FEMA has taken aggressive action to mitigate the issues raised within this report and strengthen the protection of survivor data," Joel Doolin, a FEMA associate administrator, said in its response.

The excessive sharing of data was discovered during an audit of FEMA's post-disaster sheltering program.

(Adds FEMA comment starting in the third paragraph.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Ryan Beene in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jon Morgan at, Ros Krasny

For more articles like this, please visit us at

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


More Related News

Explainer: Five ways Trump
Explainer: Five ways Trump's moves to stem border surge have hit hurdles
  • US
  • 2019-04-18 22:21:27Z

On Wednesday, the acting director of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan visited the Texas border to underscore the administration's concerns about a growing crisis. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection confirmed Thursday that the agency would set up two temporary tent facilities in Texas to process migrants, each with a capacity to hold up to 500 people. Such camps have been criticized by Congress members for holding migrants too long and not providing adequate places to sleep or shower.

Trump Tweets
Trump Tweets 'Game Over' After Barr Briefing on Mueller Report

Trump has previously referenced the hit show in his tweets, including a famous warning that "sanctions are coming" after announcing his plans to increase penalties on Iran. For over a year, Trump's lawyers have warned him that his tweets and public statements could create legal jeopardy for him or prolong the investigation. It was advice Trump didn't always take.

McConnell Urges Raising Tobacco Purchase Age to 21
McConnell Urges Raising Tobacco Purchase Age to 21

Speaking at event Thursday in his home state of Kentucky, the second biggest tobacco producer after North Carolina, the Republican leader said he plans to introduce legislation in May and expects it will get bipartisan support in the Senate. McConnell said he is motivated partly by the growing popularity

Bonds Advance, Stocks Mixed Before Holiday Weekend: Markets Wrap
Bonds Advance, Stocks Mixed Before Holiday Weekend: Markets Wrap

Treasuries led a rebound in global bonds on Thursday, while U.S. equity futures edged lower and European stocks fluctuated as a cautious mood gripped markets before the long holiday weekend. The yield on 10-year Treasuries slipped the most in a week, while the euro dropped and European bonds gained

Barr Plans News Conference Thursday on Mueller Report's Release
Barr Plans News Conference Thursday on Mueller Report's Release

The almost 400-page report will be delivered to Congress between 11 a.m. and noon, according to a Justice Department official. The document will be closely scrutinized for any new disclosures of contacts between President Donald Trump's presidential campaign and Russian operatives who interfered in the 2016 election, as well as any evidence that would show whether the president sought to obstruct justice by interfering in the probe. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller, also will take part in the news conference.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply


Top News: Business

Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.