updated 5/18/2007 7:27:38 AM ET 2007-05-18T11:27:38

A computer disk containing personal information on thousands of Lucent employees and retirees has been missing for at least 10 days, Alcatel-Lucent said Thursday.

A vendor informed the company May 7 that the disk could not be located, Alcatel-Lucent said in a prepared statement.

The disk includes names, addresses, Social Security numbers, birth dates and salary data for U.S. employees who worked for Lucent and their family members and Lucent retirees and their dependents, the company said. It said the disk did not contain credit card numbers or bank account information.

The telecommunications equipment maker sent an e-mail to employees Thursday informing them of the potential security breach and said it was preparing a mailing to employees, retirees and their dependents to explain the situation. In addition, the company said it will provide the individuals at risk with identity theft protection and credit monitoring for one year free of charge.

"We recognize that we have a responsibility to carefully protect this type of information and deeply regret the loss," Frank D'Amelio, chief administrative officer for Alcatel-Lucent, said in a statement. "We are taking steps to prevent this from happening in the future. In the meantime, we will provide information and assistance to our employees and retirees to help them minimize any potential risk this incident could create for them."

Alcatel-Lucent was formed in December when Paris-based Alcatel SA acquired Murray Hill, N.J.-based Lucent Technologies Inc. for $11.6 billion.

The company did not say how many people could be affected by the situation, but the combined company has more than 20,000 employees in the United States. A spokesman for the Lucent Retirees Organization told The Star-Ledger of Newark that there are more than 180,000 Lucent retirees and dependents.

The disk was prepared by Hewitt Associates, which handles Lucent's health and pension benefits, in Bridgewater for delivery to another of the company's vendors, insurer Aon Corp., in Somerset.

"It appears that the disk was either lost or stolen between April 5 and May 3," Alcatel-Lucent said in its statement.

A spokesman for Aon, Al Orendorff, told the Star-Ledger that his company got the package in early May, but no disk was in it. A Hewitt spokeswoman referred questions to Alcatel-Lucent.

Alcatel-Lucent said it has launched an internal investigation and notified state and local law enforcement officials as well as the U.S. Secret Service.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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