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Tape with data on 2 million people recovered

ABN AMRO Mortgage Group says a tape containing information of about 2 million residential mortgage customers has been recovered after being lost in transit, sparking a data security scare.
/ Source: Reuters

A U.S. mortgage firm owned by Dutch bank ABN Amro Bank NV said Tuesday it had retrieved a computer tape with data of 2 million customers that was lost by delivery firm DHL, sparking a data security scare.

ABN Amro Mortgage Group Inc., a unit of ABN Amro’s LaSalle Bank, said last Friday a tape with data including residential mortgage customer names, account information, payment histories and Social Security numbers had gone missing in transit.

The tape was lost after being picked up by DHL, a unit of Deutsche Post AG,Nov. 18 at ABN Amro Mortgage’s Chicago data processing center to be delivered to a Texas credit bureau facility.

ABN Amro Mortgage said the tape had now been located and returned to the company’s Chicago data center from the DHL facility where it was lost last month. The company said it had no evidence of misuse of data from the tape but would continue to investigate the incident.

Free credit monitoring for a year
ABN Amro Mortgage Group said it was extending a 90-day free credit monitoring program for customers to one year.

“Although we have no reason to believe that the tape was compromised, we feel it is always good practice for consumers to monitor their credit activity on a regular basis,” said Chief Executive Thomas Goldstein in a statement.

The firm said it was continuing a suspension of physical tape transfers to the credit bureau companies, instead transmitting customer data from its Chicago data processing center exclusively by secure and encrypted electronic means.

DHL said the shipment was found after an extensive search of its network and facilities.

“Although the shipment’s routing label and tracking number had become detached, based upon information contained within the original packaging, the shipment has been returned to its point of origin,” DHL said in a statement.

The incident caused concern in the United States where identity theft has become a major worry after several high-profile incidents, including the theft of tens of thousands of personal records from data provider ChoicePoint Inc.

More than 1.2 million such records were stolen from Bank of America Corp. earlier this year, and last month U.S. aerospace manufacturer Boeing Co. reported the theft of a laptop computer containing names, Social Security numbers and other sensitive information of 161,000 current and former staff.