Thursday, August 11 2022

The state agency responsible for licensing Washington businesses and individual professionals is urging licensees to review their records after a suspected data breach late last month.

The Washington Department of Licensing has removed its online license application and renewal system after becoming “aware of suspicious activity involving business and professional license data”. The DOL does not believe that any driver’s license and vehicle data was stolen.

“We immediately began investigating with the assistance of the Washington Office of Cybersecurity. As a precaution, the DOL has also shut down the Professional Licensing Online and Regulatory Information System (POLARIS) to protect the personal information of professional license holders,” the agency wrote on its website Thursday, announcing the outage and alleged data breach.

Of the roughly 40 occupational and professional licenses overseen by the DOL, POLARIS contains information on 23 of those professions, said Christine Anthony, communications manager for the agency. These professions include architects, bail bonders, tattoo artists, cosmetologists, notaries, real estate appraisers and brokers, etc.

The system stores social security numbers, dates of birth, and vehicle registration numbers for certain users. The department urges those who have used the system to check their statements and consider a free credit reporting system to determine if there is any fraudulent activity.

Those seeking to renew their licenses with the state during the POLARIS outage can complete an Intent to Renew form to avoid any penalties. The ministry said it “will not impose any fine, penalty or sanction on any person for failing to renew their license during this POLARIS system shutdown.”

The department is still investigating the breach and will notify any users whose information may have been stolen. The system was down Friday morning, Anthony said.

Those with questions about the violation can call a DOL hotline at (855) 568-2052. The telephone line is available 7 days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.


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