Stolen computers contained Arizonans' personal data

June 10, 2006

By David Marino

Laptop computers loaded with personal information have been stolen from a Phoenix company that provides retirement savings plans.

Some of that personal information belongs to city and county employees in Southern Arizona.

The problems started last month when several laptops were stolen from the Nationwide Retirement Solutions office in Phoenix.

According to the company, there's a low risk of identity theft, but still, there are concerns that some of the sensitive information could end up in the wrong hands.

"It's as close as it's ever come to me," said Ellen Ahmer, referring to identity theft.

She's one of many city and county workers in Bisbee who received an alarming letter from Nationwide Retirement Solutions.

The company provides deferred compensation retirement program for some city and county employees in Bisbee.

According to the letter sent out by Nationwide, their office in Phoenix was burglarized last month.

The thief stole several laptops containing former and current clients' personal information, like social security numbers, birth dates, and addresses.

Bisbee City Manager Stephen Pauken said, "They explained to us that they do have password protected equipment that should make it more difficult for people stealing laptop computers to get in and actually access personal information of the client base."

But Pauken says they're still worried.

"We'll be concerned about it until Nationwide notifies us that everything is fine. We're asking our employees if they see anything unusual about their account to notify us immediately so that we can notify Nationwide and take proper steps for recovery," Pauken said.

In the meantime, Nationwide Retirement Solutions is now offering its clients a free credit monitoring service for one year.

Bisbee city officials say so far, their employees have not had any problems with their retirement accounts.

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