Stolen laptop contains firemens' SSNs

January 4, 2007

By Heather Moore

A stolen laptop in Johnston County has firemen on alert for identity theft. The computer contained the names and social security numbers of volunteer firemen in Selma.

Earlier this week, someone stole a laptop computer from Selma's Water Treatment Plant. The computer was only valued at about $1,000, but some of the information on it could be priceless. That's because it contained the names and social security numbers of Selma's volunteer firefighters.

"It was a laptop that was kept at the water department because the fire chief is also the water superintendent, so he has his fire department stuff down there," explained Stan Farmer, Selma's Town Manager.

Farmer and Joe Price, Selma's Fire Chief, say firemen aren't worried about the possible security risk associated with having their personal information stolen.

"It was password protected, so it.s not like they can just boot it up and see everybody's social (security number)," Farmer said. "I don't think they'll have a lot of luck getting the information off there or anything off there because as soon as it boots up, you have to put in a password."

But North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper says the firemen -- and anyone else whose personal information is stolen -- should be concerned about identity theft.

"They ought to take additional precautions to make sure their information is protected," Cooper said. "If you aren't already monitoring your credit report, you should do that."

The Town of Selma is also taking extra precautions to secure the area around the water treatment plant.

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