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Was Your Privacy Compromised by the OPM Hack?

The recent hack of the Office of Personnel Management exposed the personal information of some 21.5 million people. That's almost 15 percent of the country. So understandably, it may take some time to notify all those people. Could you be one of them? Here's what the OPM does, and why they may have your personal information. Federal HR The OPM handles job postings for the federal government, sets policies for hiring those positions, and conducts the background investigations for prospective employees and contractors. So not only would they have personal information for federal employees, but also for references and contacts those employees listed for their background checks. As noted by The Hill, "The total includes 19.7 million contractors and employees who went through security clearance checks going back to 2000 and 1.8 million non-government workers, such as spouses and relatives, named in those checks." And the information for those individuals includes everything from the standard Social Security Numbers, addresses, and employment history to criminal records and even (1.1 million!) fingerprints. You, Too? So if you work for the federal government, or you know someone who does, it's possible your information was compromised. While many think hackers in China are responsible for the data breach, the source remains unknown, as do the motives behind the hack. The number of affected people as also varied. Initially, the government said 4.2 million personnel files were exposed, and almost of those have been notified already. A month later, the total number exploded to over 20 million, and OPM is still not sure how it will contact everyone. If you've never applied to a federal government position, worked for the feds, or been contacted regarding someone else's application, you're probably safe. In the meantime, you should take steps to protect your privacy, and keep a close eye on your bank records and credit report. Related Resources: 22 Million Affected by OPM Hack, Officials Say (ABC News) OPM Hack: Overview of the Long Term Implications (FindLaw's Technologist) Snapchat Hacked: 4.6M Users' Data Published (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Anthem Hack Spurs 'Phishing' Email Scam: How to Stay Safe (FindLaw's Common Law)
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5 Legal ‘Spring Cleaning’ Tips That Can Pay Off

Rejoice! The first day of spring is finally here. Besides tidying up your home or office, you may also want to consider some legal "spring cleaning" tasks as well. As seasons change and time moves on, so will your legal needs -- especially when it comes to updating your important legal documents. With that in mind, here are five legal spring cleaning tips that can potentially pay off: Update your estate plans. This spring might be a good time to update your will or trust -- or to finally draft those documents, if you've been putting it off. If you've recently moved, gotten married or divorced, welcomed a new child into your home, or just won the lottery, you may need to revise your will and other documents to make sure they reflect your current situation. Check your credit report. Are you a diligent bill payer or someone who's forgotten a couple payments? Regardless of your bill-paying habits, part of your legal spring cleaning routine should involve checking your credit report. Federal law requires three national credit-reporting agencies to provide consumers with a free copy of their credit report every 12 months, so why not take advantage of it? It's an especially good idea now, considering all the credit- and debit-card data that's been compromised as of late. Take another look at your lease. What does your lease say about getting your security deposit back? You'll want to review that, as it's one of the most common reasons for landlord-tenant disputes. Also, if you discovered issues like a leaky faucet during your spring cleaning, check your lease to see if your landlord is responsible for fixing it. Learn more about hiring home-improvement contractors. Fixing up your home may be part of your spring cleaning plan, but make sure your agreement with a home improvement contractor is solid. At the most basic level, a well-drafted construction contract will clearly state when work will start and finish, the price to be paid, and the terms and conditions of payment. However, home improvement projects usually involve tinkering around essential structures of your house, so your contract should address various foreseeable risks between the parties in case there's any serious damage done. Talk to a tax attorney. If your personal income tax situation is complicated, or if you've received a letter or notification from the IRS that something's amiss, then an important part of your legal spring cleaning plan should be to speak with a tax attorney. An experienced tax attorney can pinpoint any potential problems and help you sift through the thousand-plus pages of IRS code to make sure you're getting all the deductions you're eligible for. Of course these are just a few common legal issues that may need attention, and every person's situation is unique. If you're ready to spring into your legal "spring cleaning," check out FindLaw's Legal Planning homepage for more ideas that can pay off. Related Resources: Top 5 Reasons to Hire a Tax Lawyer (FindLaw's Free Enterprise) 5 Legal Issues You Can Plan Ahead For (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Should You Scrap Your Will and Start Over? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) How Many Trustees Can a Trust Have? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
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