Bank of America Warns Customers After Laptop Theft

Robert McMillan, IDG News Service

Users of the Bank of America Corp.'s Visa Buxx prepaid debit cards are being warned that they may have had sensitive information compromised following the theft of an unencrypted laptop computer.

In a letters sent to Buxx users and dated September 23, the Charlotte, North Carolina, bank warned that customers may have had their bank account numbers, routing transit numbers, names, and credit card numbers compromised by the theft. Visa Buxx is a prepaid credit card for teenagers that the Bank of America (BofA) stopped selling in January.

The laptop, which belonged to an unnamed Bank of America "service provider" was stolen on August 29, said Diane Wagner, a BofA spokesperson. The bank was notified of the theft on September 9, and began sending out the letters after a two-week investigation, she said.

Though the information on the laptop would not have been easily accessible to thieves, it was not encrypted, Wagner said. The bank has been monitoring the affected accounts and has not yet observed any signs of fraud. "We have no evidence that an unauthorized person has accessed or even reviewed that customer information," she said.

Wagner refused to offer many other details on the theft, which was reported Friday in the San Francisco Chronicle. She would not name the service provider, say how many BofA customers had been affected, or even confirm that the theft had occurred within the United States.

This is not the first time BofA has had to notify account holders of identity theft. In March, it confirmed that information on about 60,000 of its customers had been stolen by an identity-theft ring.

The March disclosure came just a month after BofA revealed that it had lost digital tapes containing the credit card account records of 1.2 million U.S. federal employees.

Copyright 2005 PC World Communications, Inc.

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