Customer data stolen from water district

January 17, 2007

Linda Lou

The credit-card numbers of about 500 customers in the Rincon del Diablo Municipal Water District were stolen yesterday in an early-morning break-in, officials said.

Thieves smashed a glass wall at the district's offices on North Iris Lane and stole two computers, one from the customer services department and the other from engineering, said Darlene Lynn, interim general manager.

Customers' names and credit-card numbers were contained in software on the customer services computer, but their Social Security numbers and birth dates were not on either computer, Lynn said. She said the number of stolen credit-card numbers could increase because officials are still determining the extent of information that was taken. No instances of credit-card numbers being used illegally have been reported, the district said, and police are investigating the burglary.

Customers affected by the theft were being notified by phone yesterday, and all customers will get letters this week about the breach, Lynn said.

To increase security, the district is working with a software provider to encrypt data on its computers and is planning to install fences around its building, according to a statement issued by the district yesterday.

The damage and computer loss was estimated at about $2,000, Lynn said. About 5 percent of the district's customers pay with credit cards on a regular basis, she said.

The district serves about 7,600 customers within a 42-square-mile service area that includes parts of the city of Escondido, unincorporated neighborhoods outside the city and parts of San Marcos and San Diego. For more information, call the water district at (760) 745-5522.

main page ATTRITION feedback