LUMBERTON — The director of the Board of Elections said there have been no reports to his office of a person’s identity being stolen or compromised following the thefts last month of five computers that contained personal information of voters.
Approximately 71,000 letters were recently sent to all registered voters in Robeson County alerting them of the thefts and advising them of precautionary steps. Dock Locklear, supervisor of the Board of Elections, said in the days following the Sept. 4 thefts that only the names of people who had voted early were on the computers, but the decision was made to send the letter to all registered voters, even those who had not voted early.
Locklear said the personal information contained on the laptops includes voters’ names, addresses, dates of birth, the last four digits of Social Security numbers and in some cases driver’s license numbers. The information is protected by two passwords. No arrests have been made, and the investigation by Lumberton police continues.
Locklear said the thefts will not affect a voter’s ability to cast a ballot in the upcoming General Election on Nov. 6. He said the stolen information was also kept on a server.
The Board of Elections has heard from many concerned residents; The Robesonian has also received many phone calls from people upset to learn about the thefts through the letter. In the letter, voters are urged to remain “vigilant by reviewing account statements and monitoring free credit reports” to catch any suspicious activity.
The board on Sept. 4 reported the thefts at the office at 108 W. Elizabethtown Road to the Lumberton police immediately after discovering they had occurred, and then notified the North Carolina State Board of Elections and the Consumer Protection Division of the North Carolina Department of Justice.
Locklear did not want to release details, but the Fayetteville Observer reported that a staff member was given the task of removing supplies from a padlocked room where the computers were stored between July and September, and recruited two non-paid volunteers to help. The computers were last used on July 18 and were discovered missing on Sept. 4, so the exact date they were stolen is not known..
The Elections Office has taken measures to prevent thefts, according to Locklear.
Residents can initiate a fraud alert or receive a free credit check through the major credit reporting companies. The board recommends that those concerned should use the following sources to monitor their credit report: Equifax, 800-685-1111, www.equifax.com; Experian, 800-397-3742, www.experian.com; and Trans Union, 800-888-4213, www.transunion.com.
For more information on how to prevent identity theft, contacted the Federal Trade Commission Consumer Response Center, 877-438-4338, www.ftc.gov/idtheft, or North Carolina Attorney’s Office, 919-716-6400; www.ncdoj.gov/consumer.aspx.