38,700 USDA Program Payees' Information Leaked

Private information of about 38,700 Farm Service Agency and Rural Development fund recipients was exposed in a publicly available database.

A government-wide USDA Web site leaked private identification information for 63,000 people, the department says. The people whose information was available in the database had been awarded funds through the Farm Service Agency or Rural Development.

The estimate of 38,700, which USDA reported on Monday, is down from Friday's estimation of 63,000.

The USDA funding recipients will be eligible for a year of free credit monitoring services.

The FSA programs involved about 35,000 individuals and are limited to; Conservation Security Program, Emergency Loan for Seed Producers, Emergency Loans, Farm Labor Housing Loans and Grants, Farm Ownership Loans, Special Apple Program, and the Wetlands Reserve Program.

The Rural Development programs involved about 3,700 people and are limited to; Business and Industry Loans, Community Facilities Loans and Grants, Direct Housing Natural Disaster, Direct Housing Natural Disaster Loans and Grants, Emergency Loans, Lower Income Housing Assistance Program Section 8 Moderate Rehabilitation, Physical Disaster Loans, Rural Rental Assistance Payments, Rural Rental Housing Loans, Very Low to Moderate Income Housing Loans, and Very Low-Income Housing Repair Loans and Grants.

An Illinois farmer, Marsha Bergmeier, discovered the database by accident after typing her farm's name in a Google search. USDA removed the information from the Web site immediately upon learning of the exposure.

Any USDA funding recipient with questions may call 1-800-FED-INFO (1-800-333-4636) or visit USA.gov. The call center operates from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (EDT), Monday-Friday.

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