Stolen computer server sparks ID theft fears

June 14, 2006

By Jim Popkin, Tim Sandler & the NBC Investigative Unit

A thief recently stole a computer server belonging to a major U.S. insurance company, and company officials now fear that the personal data of nearly 1 million people could be at risk, insurance industry sources tell NBC News.

The computer server contains personal electronic data for 930,000 Americans, including names, Social Security numbers and tens of thousands of medical records. The server was stolen on March 31, along with a camcorder and other office equipment, during a break-in at a Midwest office of American Insurance Group (AIG), company officials confirm.

An AIG spokesman says that there's no evidence that the thief has accessed the personal data on the server or used it for any illicit purpose. The server is password protected, the AIG spokesman adds. Story continues below . advertisement

The server contains detailed personal data from 930,000 prospective AIG customers, whose information had been forwarded to the insurance firm from 690 insurance brokers around the country. The potential customers' employers were shopping with AIG for rates for excess medical coverage, the spokesman says, when they forwarded the personal data to AIG.

AIG has not yet notified any of the people whose personal data are on the stolen server. AIG security officials have been conducting a forensic analysis of the theft, and warned the 690 insurance brokers of the problem on May 26.

The AIG spokesman tells NBC: "There is no indication that the thieves were seeking data, rather than valuable hardware....To date, we are unaware of any of this information being compromised."

In a police report on the incident, officers in the Midwestern city state that the stolen server was worth $10,000. The police write that the thief "came through the ceiling, going into their [AIG's] server room." NBC News is not identifying the city at the company's request, so as to not tip off the thief who may not realize he/she has valuable personal information.

AIG describes itself as "the leading international insurance organization with operations in more than 130 countries and jurisdictions."

Ironically, an AIG member company announced earlier this year that it now offers identity-theft insurance coverage.

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