Computer tapes containing the personal information of 3.9 million Citigroup, Inc. customers have been lost en route to a credit-reporting bureau. United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS) was transporting the tapes at the time of the loss.
Forbes is reporting that Citigroup has begun notifying customers of CitiFinancial, including customers with closed accounts at CitiFinancial Retail, that the lost tapes contained their names, Social Security numbers, account numbers and payment history. Citigroup is also informing customers that there is no reason to believe the data has been used inappropriately.
“The likelihood of having the information compromised is very remote given the type of equipment that is required to read it,” Debby Hopkins, Citigroup’s chief operations and technology, is quoted by the Wall St. Journal as saying in an interview. “Additionally, the information is not in a format that an untrained eye would even know what to look for.”
The transfer of information to the credit bureau is a regular occurrence among financial service companies like Citigroup. In light of the loss, however, Citigroup is reported to have changed its procedures and begin reporting information to credit bureaus electronically.
Internetnews.com reports that the letter to customers says “We and other lenders provide this information each month to credit bureaus to ensure that your credit report remains accurate and up-to-date. We send the information via nationally recognized couriers and require them to use enhanced security procedures to transport the tapes from our data center to the bureaus. Nonetheless, during a recent delivery, one of these couriers lost one box of tapes. Beginning next month the information we provide to credit bureaus will be sent via direct encrypted electronic transmission.”
“We were moving this using an enhanced security procedure we specified and developed with (UPS),” Kevin Kessinger, president of Citigroup’s North America consumer finance unit told Reuters. “You can imagine how frustrated and disappointed we are that this occurred.”
“We sincerely regret that in this case we have not been able to find this package. We did conduct an exhaustive search,” Norman Black, a UPS spokesman told Reuters.
Wired News reports that customer notifications of the loss were delayed at the request of the Secret Service, which is investigating the disappearance.
Customers concerned about identity theft should visit their local CitiFinancial branch, or call 866-452-2484.
According to Wired News, CitiFinancial is also arranging for all affected customer to sign up with a credit monitoring service for 90 days free of charge and get free help from Citigroup’s Identity Theft resolution service if they are victimized.