Stolen laptop had info on hundreds of Villanova students, staff

November 2, 2006

By Kathy Matheson, Associated Press

A laptop computer stolen from an insurance brokerage firm contained the names, birth dates and driver's license numbers of more than 1,200 Villanova University students and staff members, the school confirmed Thursday.

No Social Security numbers were involved, said Kenneth G. Valosky, Villanova's vice president for finance.

The theft of the password-protected laptop in September from the insurance firm Hilb, Rogal & Hobbs in Plymouth Meeting was reported to police, company senior vice president Chris Schwyter said. Clients, including Villanova, were notified immediately after the company determined what information was on the laptop, he said.

The computer contained data on 1,243 Villanova students and staff members who are insured to drive university vehicles. About three-quarters of those affected were students, Valosky said, although he noted that his name was also in the laptop.

The university notified affected drivers of the theft in letters sent Oct. 26, Valosky said.

An editorial posted Thursday in the online edition of The Villanovan, the school's student newspaper, criticized the university, saying it had notified the parents of affected students rather than the students themselves. But Valosky said the notices were sent to students at their permanent addresses.

Affected students and staff will receive credit-monitoring services to ensure that their information is not misused, Schwyter said. There have been no reports of misuse so far, he said.

In the past few months, laptops with information on employees of Lancaster-based Armstrong World Industries and customers of Sovereign Bank have been stolen.

In May, a laptop containing the names, Social Security numbers and birth dates of veterans discharged since 1975 was stolen from the Maryland home of an employee of the federal Department of Veterans Affairs.

Two months later, the Transportation Department inspector general's office said one of its laptop computers containing names, birth dates and Social Security numbers for 132,955 Florida residents was stolen from a government vehicle in suburban Miami.

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