Customer data on stolen laptop

May 14, 2008

By Bill Kaufmann, Sun Media

The theft of a laptop computer containing hundreds of clients' confidential information from a Calgary bank employee's vehicle has raised concerns for Alberta's privacy commissioner.

In a letter sent yesterday to its customers, First Calgary Savings said a vehicle parked in a secured underground parkade was vandalized and the bank employee's laptop and cellphone stolen last month.

A recipient of the letter, 14-year First Calgary client Doug Gablehaus, said he was "livid" to hear personal information would have been left in a vehicle.

"It's unacceptable ... that's the way identity theft goes," said Gablehaus, adding he might now take his business elsewhere.

"In today's society, I don't think confidential information should be on someone's laptop and kept in their car."

If a complaint is lodged with the province's privacy commissioner, officials there would launch an investigation, said spokesman Wayne Wood.

"We're very concerned when we hear about these kinds of things," said Wood.

Soon after the theft occurred, police were notified and potentially vulnerable accounts numbering "in the hundreds, not thousands" had been red-flagged to prevent abuse and there's been no unusual activity detected, said First Calgary privacy officer Rod Banman.

And while he said the data was protected by a password, it doesn't appear to have been encrypted and could be vulnerable to a determined computer hacker.

"It is information somebody would love to get their hands on for identity theft purposes," said Banman.

"We're doing the best we can to ensure the information is not going to impact them."

He said it's not improper for employees to carry information in such a fashion.

"It's information needed for our employees to do their jobs -- this is a theft and there is nothing the fault of our employees," said Banman.

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