Aetna says computer with member information stolen

April 26, 2006

By Robert MacMillan and Megan Davies

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Health insurer Aetna Inc. (AET.N: Quote, Profile, Research) on Wednesday said a laptop computer containing personal information on about 38,000 of its members was stolen from an employee's car.

The data includes names, addresses and Social Security numbers, spokeswoman Cynthia Michener said. No personal banking information or health claim data was on the laptop, she added.

The members are employees of two companies that are Aetna customers, the company said in a statement. Michener said the two companies had asked that their names not be disclosed.

"They wanted all of their employees to have received their notifications directly before releasing their name," Michener said.

According to the statement, there was no indication that data on the laptop had been compromised. "We have no reason to believe that there has been any unauthorized use of it," the company said.

Aetna, with about 27.9 million members, is one of the largest healthcare insurers in the United States.

The company said it is working to notify all affected members by letter. Aetna has offered to pay for credit monitoring services for the affected members to help prevent potential misuse of the information.

The car was broken into while it was in an outdoor public parking lot, Michener said. The doors were locked, she added.

Michener declined to say in which city or state the theft occurred.

She said the company is working with law enforcement authorities, but would not say whether it was local police, or state or federal investigators.

The company has not heard from law enforcement whether any suspects have been identified, arrested or charged with a crime.

Aetna said it deeply regrets the incident and has apologized to its members.

It is augmenting its efforts to ensure employee compliance with all of its security requirements, the company said.

Aetna said the employee "did not follow our corporate policies, and it was coupled with a criminal theft".

Michener declined to say whether the employee still works for the company.

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