WASHINGTON, Sept. 2 (UPI) -- The U.S. government awarded a $133 million contract to provide identity theft protection to some 21.5 million government employees and contractors whose background-check files were hacked this summer.
The Office of Personnel Management said it will begin later this month notifying those impacted by the hack, but reaching everyone could take weeks. The contract with the Portland, Ore.-based Identity Theft Guard Solutions LLC, is part of several changes the government agency has made since the massive breach, which many believe was carried out by Chinese hackers. Chinese officials have denied the allegations.
"Millions of individuals, through no fault of their own, had their personal information stolen and we're committed to standing by them, supporting them, and protecting them against further victimization," said Beth Cobert, acting director of OPMt. "And as someone whose own information was stolen, I completely understand the concern and frustration people are feeling."
Cobert said Tuesday there were no signs any of the stolen data was used for opening credit cards, further adding to the speculation the hackers were attempting to sweep up intelligence information about U.S. government workers.
"We have been working closely with the [Federal Bureau of Investigation] and others to monitor the data and we have seen no evidence ... that the stolen data from the background breach has been exploited," she said.
Identity Theft Guard Solutions will monitor credit and identify theft risks for all those affected as well as their dependent minor children for three years and cover each person for up to $1 million in losses.
The hack has been an ongoing source of embarrassment for the OPM, which first reported about four million personnel records had been exploited and later acknowledged the number affected was far greater. OPM Director Katherine Archuleta resigned under pressure, days after the Obama administration revealed the full scope of the hack.