Frequently Asked Questions
- What happened?
On August 1, 2009 it was discovered that the Minority Opportunities in Research (MORE) Program Office, located in the fifth floor of the Physical Science building, was burglarized and a number of computers were stolen. Two computers stored confidential information containing first and last names, social security numbers, and addresses of former and prospective MORE participants. Every effort is being made to contact all persons possibly included in the computer files.
MORE is funded by grants from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) of the National Institutes of Health, and by the National Science Foundation (NSF). These national agencies require information in progress reports that can include social security numbers.
- What type of information was on the stolen computers?
Along with study data, the computers contained first and last names, social security numbers and addresses
of 481 former students and 8 faculty who have been identified from the MORE Programs. Additionally, personal information for approximately 130 prospective MORE participants, including community college students is also believed to have been on these two computers.
- Was my information stored on these computers?
If you have received a letter from the University about this incident, your information was included. If you were a candidate for MORE and have not received a letter from the University regarding this incident please call the toll free number, at 1-800-883-4029, to verify if your information was stored on these computers.
- Was the information on the computers encrypted?
No. University guidelines and standard practices were not implemented.
- Who is responsible for not encrypting this information?
All personnel matters are considered confidential, and therefore, Cal State L.A. cannot comment on persons who
may be involved or describe specific disciplinary actions involving campus employees. However, please know that
the University is addressing the situation appropriately.
- When was my personal information entered on these computers, and how long was it there?
The information was entered at the time you were either considered as a candidate for the MORE program, or upon your acceptance into the program and has been stored until present.
- How long did it take the University to discover and address this situation?
The burglary was discovered on August 1, 2009. Once made aware of this theft, Cal State L.A.'s
College of Natural and Social Sciences and Division of Information Technology Services
immediately reviewed back-up data to determine what kind of information was on the stolen computers.
Contact information, including research and current addresses of those affected had to be assembled.
- I haven't received an official notification letter or e-mail from Cal State L.A. about this incident, but I want to confirm whether I am impacted. How can I do this?
The call center for this incident is the toll free number (800) 883-4029. We can check to see if your information
- Will I be getting a call from the University?
No. The University will not call you about this incident unless it is in direct response to an inquiry from an
Please note: Be wary of individuals claiming to be affiliated with the University who may contact students,
employees, and alumni asking for personal information such as Social Security numbers and credit card numbers with PINs.
Please be aware that Cal State L.A. will contact only members of the campus community who are affected by this incident,
and provide information and resources to help prevent possible fraud or identity theft. The University will not ask
for any personal confidential information unless it is in response to an inquiry from an affected individual.
- Will this incident affect my ability to obtain a job, be admitted to another educational institution, be admitted
to a graduate program, or get financial aid?
This incident should not affect your ability to obtain a job, be admitted to another educational institution, be
admitted to a graduate program, or get financial aid. Nonetheless, we urge you to regularly obtain copies of
your credit report and report any suspicious activity on your accounts immediately.
- I received a notification letter about this incident. Does that mean that someone has misused my personal information?
There is no way of knowing if anyone actually retrieved or used your personal information. However, individuals
should consider taking proactive steps to protect themselves from possible fraud and identity theft.
- What can I do to protect myself if a thief or thieves obtained my information?
Visit Web site at
the State of California Department of Consumer Affairs
Office of Privacy and Protection for helpful information about protecting your identity. You should also consider
contacting the credit reporting agencies listed below to complete an automated phone-in fraud alert process.
When you request a free fraud alert, the agencies will automatically place fraud alerts on your accounts listed with
them, and will separately mail you a credit report at no cost. The Web addresses and telephone numbers, including
menu options, are as follows.
- Do I need to obtain a credit report from all three agencies, or is querying one sufficient?
When you place a free fraud alert with one of the credit reporting agencies, that agency is supposed
to notify the other two agencies. To be on the safe side, it may be a good idea for you to contact all
three agencies. Fraud alerts will then be placed automatically on your accounts, and credit reports from
the agencies will be mailed to you at no cost. The Web addresses and telephone numbers of the three major
credit agencies are below. Please note the menu options for placing a fraud alert by phone.
- If I see something suspicious on my credit report, Social Security report, or banking statement, whom should
I contact to investigate the activity?
The California Attorney General's Web site has some helpful
hints on what to do if you suspect fraud or identity theft. The
State of California Department of Consumer Affairs
Office of Privacy Protection also has various tips regarding identity theft. In addition, you can call your
local law enforcement agency (e.g., city police department) to file a fraud report.
- Will the University pay for my credit report?
No, but when you place a fraud alert with one of the credit reporting agencies, you will receive a free credit report.
The California Office of Privacy Protection recommends every individual request a copy of his or her credit report on
a yearly basis. Each affected individual interested in checking their credit report will need to pay the applicable
fees, as they would every year to protect their information. For more information, see the California Office of
Privacy Protection Web site.
- Are there negative consequences for placing a fraud alert?
Fraud alerts are designed to protect potential and actual victims of fraud or identity theft,
but please note that there may be some inconveniences to placing an alert. According the
Federal Trade Commission's Web site: When a business sees the alert on your credit report,
they must verify your identity before issuing you credit. As part of this verification process,
the business may try to contact you directly. This may cause some delays if you're trying to
obtain credit. To compensate for possible delays, you may wish to include a cell phone number,
where you can be reached easily, in your alert. Remember to keep all contact information in
your alert current.
What is a Fraud Alert?
- As a result of this incident, what is the College of Natural and Social Sciences doing to protect personal information?
The College of Natural and Social Sciences issued a reminder to all its faculty and staff about proper use of
Social Security numbers and encryption of personal information. Every faculty and staff member is required to
participate in ongoing information security training.