BILLINGS, Mont.- A Bureau of Indian Affairs spokeswoman says more than 20,000 members of two Montana American Indian tribes were notified of a potential data breach involving their personal information.
BIA Spokeswoman Nedra Darling says an external hard drive with details on tribal members was stolen last month from an agency law enforcement vehicle in Big Horn County.
Darling says the investigation has been turned over to the Big Horn County sheriff’s office to decide if criminal charges are warranted against those responsible for the theft.
The unencrypted device contained names, addresses, birth dates and tribal enrolment information for members of the Crow and Northern Cheyenne Tribes.
BIA Director Weldon Bruce Loudermilk said in a letter to tribal members that he was confident the hard drive was not accessed and no information was compromised.
Federal agents later questioned those responsible for the theft and Loudermilk wrote that he was confident the personal information was not accessed.
But officials say tribal members may want to protect themselves by requesting a fraud alert from credit agencies such as Equifax and Experian.
A BIA spokeswoman did not immediately respond to questions.