Mercantile says laptop theft could put customers at risk

May 12, 2006

By Rachael Sams, Baltimore Business Journal

Mercantile Bankshares Corp. said late Friday that a laptop computer containing personal information for more than 48,000 customers was stolen from an employee of subsidiary Mercantile Potomac Bank.

Mercantile Potomac Bank, which serves Fairfax and Loudoun counties in Northern Virginia, said it is notifying customers about the incident. The bank said the theft appears to have been random. The stolen computer contained confidential information about some customers, including Social Security numbers and account numbers.

Mercantile said there is no indication to date that any of the customer information has been misused. The bank says it contacted regulators and law enforcement after learning of the situation.

The Mercantile Potomac Bank employee removed the computer from bank premises, which was a violation of Mercantile's policies, the bank said.

Mercantile has put a special monitoring procedure in place on the affected accounts. The bank is also urging customers to double-check their credit reports. It is offering all retail customers affected by the incident a one-year subscription to a credit monitoring service at the bank's expense. The service alerts customers to any potential fraudulent use of their personal information.

"We deeply regret this unfortunate incident," said Ken Cook, Mercantile Potomac Bank president, in a statement. "Safeguarding our customers' personal data is a top priority and we take our responsibilities in this regard extremely seriously. In this case, an employee violated company security policies. In the wake of this incident, we are examining our controls in an effort to prevent a future occurrence."

The missing computer did not contain any customer passwords, personal identification numbers (PIN numbers) or account expiration dates, the bank said.

Baltimore-based Mercantile Bankshares Corp. (NASDAQ: MRBK) has more than $16 billion in assets. Its community banking subsidiaries have 238 offices in Maryland; Washington, D.C.; northern Virginia; the Delmarva Peninsula; and southern Pennsylvania.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]