Bank tape lost with data on 90,000 clients

A computer tape from a Connecticut bank containing personal data on 90,000 customers was lost in transit recently, the bank reported Wednesday.

People’s Bank, based in Bridgeport, Connecticut, is sending letters to the affected customers, it said in a press release. The tape contains information such as names, addresses, Social Security numbers and checking account numbers. It was bound for the TransUnion LLC credit reporting bureau, based in Woodlyn, Pennsylvania, via United Parcel Service of America Inc. (UPS), the release said.

UPS is investigating the incident along with all involved parties, said UPS spokeswoman Heather Robinson. She would not disclose when the package was lost.

The bank has not received any reports of unauthorized activity on the affected accounts and has no reason to believe the data has been improperly used, according to the People’s release. The bank considers misuse of the data “highly unlikely.” UPS also has no evidence that the package was compromised, stolen or received by an unauthorized person, according to Robinson.

Loss and theft of personal data has taken on a high profile since the theft of data on 145,000 consumers from credit and personal information vendor ChoicePoint Inc. in February 2005. Since that time, there have been dozens of reported cases of loss or theft of personal information involving more than 52 million people, according to a chronology compiled by the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, in San Diego. Among them was the loss of a computer backup tape from Bank of America Corp. containing information on 1.2 million customers, according to the privacy rights group.

There isn’t enough information on the People’s Bank tape to allow anyone to get into a customer’s account, according to the bank. It does not contain checking account balances, debit card numbers, personal identification numbers or birth dates, the statement said. In addition, the tape can’t be read without a mainframe and software, according to the bank.

The data on the tape involves customers that have a People’s Bank personal credit line, an overdraft protection mechanism for checking accounts. As a safeguard, the bank will provide affected customers with a credit monitoring service for one year, at the bank’s expense, to quickly alert customers to possible fraud involving their personal information.

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