By Rick Rothacker
rrothacker (at) charlotteobserver.com
April 13, 2007
A stolen Bank of America Corp. laptop has resulted in lost personal
information of current, former and retired employees, according to a
letter sent this week to those affected.
The letter said a "limited" number of people were affected, but the
Charlotte bank on Thursday would not provide a number. Employees at
various levels of the company were affected, spokesman Scott Silvestri
The lost data included names, addresses, dates of birth and Social
Security numbers. There is no sign the information has been misused,
according to an April 10 letter obtained by the Observer. The bank is
offering a free credit monitoring service for two years to those
The bank employs more than 203,000 worldwide, including about 15,000 in
the Charlotte area. A former employee who received the letter Thursday
said he appreciated the warning.
"It's not the kind of letter you want to get," said the former employee,
who did not want his name used because of the sensitivity of the matter.
"But it's nice they let me know."
The lost laptop comes amid rising concern about the theft of personal
information and its potential misuse. Scammers can use stolen data to
open new accounts or tap existing ones.
According to the letter, the laptop was stolen when an employee was a
"victim of a recent break-in." Silvestri said he could not provide
further information because the crime is under investigation.
Reports of data breaches are becoming commonplace, especially with new
laws that require notification to government officials and sometimes the
victims. Last month, N.C. officials said new laws enacted since late
2005 had resulted in the notification of 103 personal-data security
breaches in little more than a year.
Bank of America's best known breach came in 2005 when it lost data tapes
holding customer information for 1.2 million federal employees.
Lately, heisted laptops have become a common culprit. In January, the
N.C. Department of Revenue said a computer containing files on 30,000
taxpayers was stolen from the car of an employee. Last year, a laptop
computer containing the Social Security numbers of 17.5 million veterans
was stolen from the home of a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
analyst near Washington.
In the letter, Bank of America said it was taking steps to "strengthen
practices for the handling and storage of associate data to avoid future
occurrences." Silvestri said the stolen laptop had "information
If Your Info Was Lost
The bank said it has sent letters to all those affected. The notice
advises regular reviews of credit reports and account statements over
the next two years.
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