Neiman says employee data stolen

April 24, 2007

By Maria Halkias, The Dallas Morning News

The Neiman Marcus Group said Tuesday that computer equipment containing files with sensitive information of nearly 160,000 current and former employees has been stolen.

The files were owned by a pension consultant and contained 2-year-old data that was current as of Aug. 30, 2005. Information included each person's name, address, social security number, date of birth, period of employment and salary information.

Employees hired after Aug. 30, 2005 are not affected.

The Dallas-based luxury retailer has "no reason to believe that the data contained in the files on the computer equipment was the target of the theft nor that the information has been accessed or misused," said Ginger Reeder, vice president of corporate communications at Neiman Marcus.

Included are current and former employees of Neiman Marcus Stores, Neiman Marcus Direct, Bergdorf Goodman, Horchow, Horchow Finale, Last Call and individuals receiving a Neiman Marcus Group pension. It also includes information for employees of Chefs Catalog and Contempo Casuals when they were part of Neiman Marcus.

Neiman Marcus has hired Equifax to provide credit protection services for at least one year for all 160,000 people involved. Neiman Marcus is also sending letters out to each person and will post information on its Web site, said Ms. Reeder.

The affected group includes mostly former employees and retirees, since the company today employs a total of 17,200 people.

The list is a who's who of some of the retail industry's most influential people. Among them are Federated Department Stores chairman and CEO Terry Lundgren, former J.C. Penney Co. chairman and CEO Allen Questrom, former Saks Fifth Avenue CEO Philip Smith, who is the father of Dallas Mayor Laura Miller, and former Neiman Marcus CEO Richard Marcus.

The consultant discovered the theft on April 8 and told Neiman Marcus on April 10, Ms. Reeder said. "The information was kept private until it was determined that our going public with it won't affect the police investigation."

The company isn't saying from where the computer equipment was stolen, but it wasn't Dallas, Ms. Reeder said. She also wouldn't identify the law enforcement authorities investigating the matter with the luxury retailer's internal security team.

The pension consultants were doing the "tedious work of updating all the information," and Neiman Marcus has used the firm "over the years," she said. The unnamed firm isn't their pension administrator, Fidelity Investments, Ms. Reeder said.

It's an embarrassing matter for the company that is known for the highest levels of customer service and depends on its employees to carry it out.

Chairman and CEO Burt Tansky said in a prepared statement that Neiman Marcus "takes the security of personal information very seriously and we deeply regret that this incident occurred."

He added, "we are working diligently with law enforcement agencies in our efforts to locate this computer equipment."

Neiman Marcus said employees and pension recipients with questions or concerns can call an information security helpline at 1-800-456-7019. A representative will be available seven days per week, 24 hours per day. Any important new information will also be posted online at, the company said.

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