Local leasing company Wolfe & Associates announced Friday that rental applicants’ personal data — including birthdays, Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers and addresses — had been breached by a group of data thieves operating out of San Diego sometime in the past six months.
The data thieves “appear to have a history of obtaining personal information and using it to submit fraudulent insurance claims, among other things,” Wolfe & Associates said in its statement.
Wolfe & Associates manages over 30 properties in Isla Vista.
Wolfe & Associates was first notified about the data breach by the Santa Barbara Police Department on March 5, but the breach may have occurred as far back as six months ago, according to the leasing agency’s statement. The alleged data thieves have since been arrested, according to the notice.
The statement did not specify whether it was Santa Barbara city or county police that notified the company.
Wolfe & Associates said it was notified by police on March 23 about the potentially affected applicants, including a list of their email addresses. According to Wolfe & Associates, these individuals have been notified about the data breach.
According to Erin Valenzuela, a third-year communications and philosophy double major, only one person in her four-person Wolfe & Associates-managed apartment had been notified about the data breach.
“I found out more from twitter than I did from them,” she wrote in a message.
A fourth-year student who leased with Wolfe & Associates from 2016-18, and asked not to be named because they intend to pursue legal action, said in a message that “The main concern is the cosigners. If my data was breached, my parents are my cosigners so the likelihood of their socials being taken as well are very high.”
Individuals who applied for apartments managed by Wolfe & Associates after February 2018 have not been impacted by the breach, and payment information was not compromised in the breach, according to Scott Wolfe, vice president of Wolfe & Associates.
Wolfe also said that people who have been “potentially impacted” by the breach have been notified and that Wolfe & Associates has been “working to respond to a number of inquiries.”
In an email sent out to impacted Wolfe & Associates residents, the agency recommended that tenants “notify the police department of any unusual activity” and to “check with credit bureaus, financial institutions, and insurance companies that you do business with.”
Wolfe & Associates also recommended in the email that tenants change their passwords for bank accounts, credit cards and “any other entity that you have financial dealings with.”
Additionally, the company encouraged those affected to sign up for credit monitoring services.
“We have arranged to offer monitoring service with NortonLifeLock at no cost to you for a period of one year,” the company wrote.
The leasing agency also said to report any unusual activity to the SBPD case agent, Detective Rapp, as well as individuals’ financial institutions, such as credit card companies.