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Thursday, March 23, 2006

Fido Laptop With Customer Data Stolen

by: Armie Margaret Lee

A laptop belonging to Fidelity Investments and bearing personal information on 196,000 retirement customers was stolen last week.

The laptop contained data on participants in Hewlett-Packard Co.'s 401(k) and pension plans, including names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth and compensation, The Boston Globe reported.

The Boston-based mutual fund giant has not received reports of abused data so far.

In a letter to account holders dated March 21, Fidelity said the data was in a "scrambled" state and the license to the software that held the data had expired, thus making data interpretation difficult.

The firm has put in place added authentication measures for access to these accounts and advised credit reporting bureaus. In addition, it is providing customers a free option to enlist in credit monitoring services to detect unusual activity.

Anne Crowley, a spokesperson for Fidelity, told The Globe that the company typically doesn't store so much data on a laptop. In this case, however, a group of employees brought the laptop to a business meeting. Crowley declined to identify the location.  

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