Missing Computer Holding Personal Data of 540,000 People Found

July 27, 2006

A computer that went missing with the personal information of as many as 540,000 injured workers has been located, New York state officials said Wednesday.

The FBI and the private company that had been in possession of the state-owned personal computer would not say how or where it was found, only that it was in “a secure location.”

Officials said Monday the computer was missing from a secured facility of Chicago-based CS Stars, an independent insurance brokerage. Most of the workers are New Yorkers from across the state who are in two special funds of the workers’ compensation system.

CS Stars was using the computer to move the data — including names, addresses and Social Security numbers — from the state to the company’s computerized claim system, according to the letter.

Mike Kachel, a spokesman for CS Stars’ New York City office, said the FBI located the missing computer and that it appeared no one used any of the information it contained.

FBI spokeswoman Cynthia Yates would not release any other information, saying the investigation was continuing. She said forensic tests were still being completed to verify the information had not been stolen.

The company had earlier offered the affected workers identity theft insurance, 12 months to get free credit reports and access to fraud resolution specialists. That offer still stands, Kachel said.

The incident is the latest in a rash involving compromised government data on individuals, from a stolen Veterans Affairs laptop containing information on 26.5 million veterans to a hacker in the Nebraska child support computer system who may have gotten information on 300,000 people and 9,000 employers.

Identity theft is considered one of the country’s fastest growing white-collar crimes. One recent survey reported that there have been more than 28 million new identity theft victims since 2003, but experts say many incidents go undetected or unreported.

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