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Officials with one of Utah's largest insurance companies are searching for a stolen laptop containing Social Security numbers and other personal information for about 2,800 people and 1,400 companies.
The computer was taken from a car parked in the home garage of an auditor for the Workers Compensation Fund (WCF) on Dec. 9. But WCF said it chose not to issue a public statement at that time out of fear of alerting anyone that the laptop contained information that could be used for identity thefts.
The agency said it has informed companies and workers of the theft, and is covering fees for a professional security watch for the affected workers that could total $200,000, said WCF spokeswoman Peggy Larsen.
"As soon as this was discovered, every auditor brought in their laptops so that all information was removed," she said. "And, we've added additional levels of password protection."
The stolen laptop was password protected, she said. But as an additional precaution, auditors are now not allowed to store personal information, such as Social Security numbers, in their laptops and the computer information will be better encrypted.
"This is the first time anything like this has happened," the agency's CEO Lane Summerhays said in a statement released Wednesday. "We are taking steps so it can be the last."
But James W. Bunger, head of a West Valley energy development firm, has so little confidence in the WCF that he has paid $300 for credit monitoring services for three of his employees whose information was stored in the stolen laptop.
"WCF has failed to assure us that their procedures have changed to avoid such breaches of security in the future," said Bunger, who is president of James W. Bunger & Associations.
Bunger said that despite any security improvements, auditors should not be storing information on laptops for more than one company at a time.
WCF's Summerhays said there is no indication that the information has fallen into the hands of identity thieves, "and now the only information on laptops is what anyone can get from a telephone book," she said.
The Salt Lake City-based WCF provides worker compensation insurance coverage to more than 30,000 companies, representing about 61 percent of the businesses operating in the state.