Personal Data Of Chicago Employees Stolen

September 1, 2006

STNG Wire, The Chicago Sun-Times

Thousands of city employees could be at risk of identity theft following the theft of a laptop computer from a city contractor, and a delay of more than a year in reporting the theft to the proper personnel within the company, according to a release from the Mayor.s office.

Nationwide Retirement Solutions, the provider of deferred compensation services for City of Chicago employees has notified the city that a laptop computer containing personal information about customers was stolen from the home of one of its employees, according to the release.

NRS, which has provided services for city employees since 2004, is notifying affected individuals by letter and offering free credit-monitoring service for a year, which includes $25,000 of identity theft insurance, according to the release.

The theft occurred in April 2005 at the home of an NRS employee and was immediately reported to local police and the firm, the release said. However, due to an internal communications error, the NRS team that investigates computer theft -- and identifies what information may have been obtained from the computer -- was not made aware of the theft until July 2006, the release said. At that point, it began to investigate and make preparations for notifying affected customers, according to the release.

NRS told the city the computer contained personal information, including names, address, phone numbers, birthdates and Social Security numbers for up to 38,443 city employees and retirees in the deferred compensation plan, the release said. However, the firm believes the risk of identity theft or misuse of the information is low, because the computer was protected by User ID and a complicated password, the release said.

NRS has also reviewed account activity in the 14 months since the theft and found no evidence of the information being used to access funds or account information, the release said. Since the theft, NRS has added encryption as a new safety feature on all laptops, the release said.

Affected employees will receive letters by the end of next week, offering the free credit monitoring, the release said. Any employee who does not receive a letter was not affected, according to the release.

main page ATTRITION feedback