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Potential data breach at Washington licensing department investigated

The state Department of Licensing is still investigating whether or not there was a breach after detecting suspicious activity.

SEATTLE — The Washington Department of Licensing (DOL) is investigating after it detected suspicious activity involving professional and occupational license data during the week of Jan. 24.

The potential breach could have affected thousands of professionals, and the DOL took the precaution of shutting down the Professional Online Licensing and Regulatory Information System (POLARIS) to protect licensees' personal information.

The POLARIS system is what stores information about license holders and applicants, which could include social security numbers, dates of birth, driver's license numbers and other personal information.

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Professional or occupational licenses include those for jobs like appraisers, engineers, barbers, real estate agents, car dealers or firearms licenses.

“At this time, we have no indication that any other DOL data was affected, such as driver and vehicle licensing information. All other DOL systems are operating normally,” a release said.

The DOL said it is working with the state’s Office of Cybersecurity to protect the licensing data and bring POLARIS back online.

In the meantime, those who may have been impacted can remain vigilant by reviewing account statements and credit reports.

The DOL said professional licensees can consider placing a fraud alert or security freeze on their credit file.

Also, anyone who believes they are the victim of fraud or identity theft should file a police report and file a copy of the report to their creditors and any other agency that may need proof of a crime to clear records.

For those whose licenses expire while POLARIS is down, the DOL will not fine, penalize or sanction you for failing to renew your license while the system is still down. The DOL plans to prioritize renewals based on the license expiration date.

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