The U.S. State Department has alerted roughly 400 people living in the Washington, D.C. area that identity thieves stole confidential information from their passport applications to fraudulently open credit card accounts.

What type of personal information? Social Security numbers, among other data.

What happened? The criminal syndicate was busted after police found a man in possession of 19 credit cards in different names and eight completed passport applications.

What was the response? Because of similar snooping incidents in the past, the department has improved its access management and monitoring capabilities.

Source: Associated Press, "State Department warns of possible identity theft," Nov. 1, 2008.