Homeland Security: Use only TSA sources for TWIC info

| 1/22/2009

Two days after one truck driver applied for his Transportation Worker Identification Credential, he received an e-mail from an address attached to twicprogram.com, which is apparently an advertising-based search engine.

Gary, a driver from Georgia who asked his last name not be used, set up his TWIC enrollment in recent weeks and applied in person on Jan. 15 at an Indiana TWIC enrollment center. Two days later, he received an e-mail from an address attached to twicprogram.com, which is registered to Los Angeles-based Oversee Research and Development LLC.

Twicprogram.com has no affiliation with TWIC or the federal government, or the 1.5 million truck drivers and other port workers required to be enrolled in TWIC by April.

Oversee Research and Development didn’t immediately return a phone message left by Land Line Thursday.

Gary said he’s concerned someone has hacked into the TWIC Web site and possibly taken information that could be used for identity theft.

“That’s my thinking,” Gary told Land Line. “That’s the only way anyone knows I’d applied; it’s through the TWIC program.”

TSA officials are not aware of any hacking incidents on its Web site or the site of Lockheed Martin, the contractor handling the administration of TWIC cards, said Lauren Gaches, a spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security.

Entering TWIC on search engines reveals many private businesses that advertise TWIC-related education and other services.

To be on the safe side, truckers and other TWIC applicants should stick to the TWIC Web site or the hotline at 1-866-347-8942.

“We want to make sure people get the best possible information, and the best way to do it is on our official Web site or by calling the TWIC hotline,” Gaches said.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has been critical of several TSA processes during the TWIC rollout, including the price of enrollment and the ability of foreign nationals to access ports without background checks required by TWIC applicants from the U.S.

Standard TWIC enrollment costs $132.50, although workers with “current, comparable” threat assessment background checks such as hazmat endorsements, Merchant Mariner Documents or Free and Secure Trade (FAST) cards may obtain a TWIC card for $105.25. The card is designed to last five years.

Gary, who only makes online purchases using prepaid cards, says he’ll continue to watch his credit card accounts to be safe.

“That way there’s no money for them to grab, anyway,” he said.

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer