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IRS Loses Laptop With Personal Information for 291 People

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This entry was posted on 6/15/2006 12:22 PM and is filed under Security,unbelievable,Money,news.

The IRS has announced that an employee lost an agency laptop early last month that contained personal information for 291 workers and job applicants.

The employee apparently checked the laptop as luggage aboard a commercial flight while traveling to a job fair and never saw it again, according to Terry L. Lemons of the IRS.

The computer contained unencrypted names, birth dates, Social Security numbers and fingerprints for both employees and applicants. Only approximately 100 of the people on the computer were IRS employees.

Lemons says that the computer held no tax return information.

"The data was not encrypted, but it was protected by a double-password system," he explained. "To get into this personal data on there, you would have to have two separate passwords."

The Treasury Department's inspector general for tax administration is investigating the loss, according to the IRS. All affected individuals are being notified and advised as to identy theft precautions.

The department of Veterans Affairs suffered a much larger data loss last month when thieves stole a laptop and hard drive from a VA data analyst's home that contained personal information for 26.5 million veterans and active military members.

IRS employees are worried, according to Colleen M. Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union.

"The first thing that comes to mind is identity theft and why care and caution wasn't taken to encrypt their data," she said. "They are taking this seriously and I would expect to see some changes in policy and procedures in the future."

Martin Lukac represents

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