Bank offers help after data theft

August 1, 2006

Post Staff Report

U.S. Bank has offered free credit monitoring to customers whose personal information was stolen recently from the car of a bank employee.

Bank spokesman Steve Dale said the names, phone numbers and Social Security numbers of a "very small" number of customers were in the briefcase that was stolen in Covington from the employee's car.

He would not divulge the number of customers, the exact location of the theft or the date of the theft.

No account information was in the briefcase, he said.

Dale said the bank on Friday started the process of notifying the customers involved, apologizing and offering them remedies to help safeguard their identities from theft.

The bank will help the customers contact the three major credit bureaus and will pay for each customer to have a year's subscription to Privacy Guard, a service that monitors a customer's credit reports and notifies customers daily of any changes, offers up to $10,000 in insurance to cover identity theft losses and provides other credit and records-checking services.

A monthly membership fee normally costs $12.99, according to the Web site of Norwalk, Conn.-based Trilegiant Corp., which offers the service.

"We will work all avenues available to safeguard their identities and their accounts," Dale said.

That was of little consolation to a Crestview Hills woman who was among the customers whose information was in the purloined briefcase.

"It just scares me, you know," she said. "They have my Social Security number, which is all some crooks need."

The woman, who asked not to be identified, said she learned of the problem when a U.S. Bank representative called her Monday. She said she would have liked more details about what the bank plans to do.

She said she was upset at the carelessness of the employee whose car was broken into.

"I'm angry that an employee of U.S. Bank would leave a briefcase with that type of sensitive information in it in the back seat of a car," she said. "It makes me think about changing banks if their employees are no more responsible than that."

Dale said the bank has rules and procedures in place to prevent such thefts, but in this case they "didn't happen." He said the bank was restating those rules to make sure employees understand them and comply with them.

He said he couldn't comment on whether the employee involved was disciplined.

Dale said the bank was working with Covington police to try to recover the briefcase.

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