Agency says laptop with client information stolen

August 2, 2006

By Associated Press

The West Virginia Division of Rehabilitation Services is warning clients that one of its laptop computers containing their personal information has been stolen.

The information includes clients' names, addresses, Social Security numbers and telephone numbers.

The computer has been missing since July 24, said Tracy Carr, a spokeswoman for the agency in Kanawha County.

The agency sent clients a letter on July 26 informing them of the theft.

"We are very concerned about this situation," Carr said. "We have notified all of the potentially affected individuals and urged them to protect themselves from identification theft."

Carr said the computer's data was protected by a password but she could not provide any other details or say how many clients were affected because the investigation is ongoing.

"We wanted to be proactive and help with fraud and identity theft protection," she said. "We urged those affected to immediately notify the credit agencies and place a fraud alert on their credit file."

There has been a rash of incidents across the nation recently involving compromised government data on individuals, from a stolen Veterans Affairs laptop containing information on 26.5 million veterans to a hacker in the Nebraska child support computer system who may have gotten information on 300,000 people and 9,000 employers.

Identity theft is considered one of the country's fastest growing white-collar crimes. One recent survey reported that there have been more than 28 million new identity theft victims since 2003, but experts say many incidents go undetected or unreported.

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