TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Latest Wholesale Ripoff: Data on Customers Stolen

Latest Wholesale Ripoff: Data on Customers Stolen

Donna Gordon Blankinship (
Mon, 5 Jun 2006 10:50:26 -0500

By DONNA GORDON BLANKINSHIP, Associated Press Writer

Thousands of customers may be at risk for credit card fraud
after a laptop computer containing their personal information was
stolen from an auditor, a company spokesman said Saturday.

The password-protected laptop belonging to an Ernst & Young auditor
was taken in late February from a locked car, said Paul Kranhold,
spokesman for, a subsidiary of based in
Bellevue, Wash.

"As a result of our ongoing communication with law enforcement, we
don't have any indication that any credit card numbers have been used
for fraudulent activity," Kranhold said. "It appears the laptop was
not the target of the break-in."

Both and Ernst & Young mailed letters to
customers this past week encouraging them to take appropriate action
to protect their personal information.

The transactions recorded on the laptop were mostly from 2004,
although some were from 2003 or 2002, the companies said. The computer
contained personal information including names, addresses and credit
card information of about 243,000 customers. It did not
include their Social Security numbers.

Ernst & Young, which has been the outside auditor for for
several years, notified the company of the security breach on May 3.

"We deeply regret this incident has occurred and want to apologize to
you and for any inconvenience or concern this may cause,"
said the unsigned memo from Ernst & Young dated May 2006.

Ernst & Young invites those affected by the incident to enroll in a
free credit monitoring service arranged by the auditor.

"We sincerely regret that this incident occurred and we are taking it
very seriously," said the letter signed by general manager
Sean Kell.

The letter from said "Ernst & Young was taking additional
steps to protect the confidentiality of its data, including encrypting
the sensitive information we provide to them as part of the audit

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press.

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