ALERT: Ameriprise Customer Data Theft

Sensei Post in Identity Theft
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Ameriprise Financial Inc. said Wednesday, January 25, it has notified about 226,000 people that personal data were stored on a laptop computer that was stolen from an employee’s vehicle. Ameriprise said it has alerted 68,000 current and former financial advisers whose names and Social Security numbers were also stored on the same computer. About 158,000 clients had only their names and internal account numbers exposed. Ameriprise said it had received no reports that the data lost in the theft had been used improperly. Ameriprise said the theft appeared to be a “random criminal act” and that it has been working with law enforcement to recover the laptop, which it said was stolen from an employee’s locked vehicle that was parked offsite. Company spokesperson Steve Connolly said the laptop was stolen in late December outside Minnesota, but he declined to say where. Ameriprise said there was no other client-identifying information on the computer such as Social security numbers, addresses, phone numbers, or birth dates. Client
accounts could not be accessed with the information that was stored on the computer because Ameriprise does not allow access via account numbers alone without additional personal information provided only by the client.
This is a perfect example of why laptops (which are great business tools) are easy targets for thieves. Businesses should take pay more attention to the security of laptop systems and other mobile devices. ALL laptops that have any sort of sensitive or confidential information on them should have an encrypted file system. Encrypted file systems cannot be accessed without the encryption key which should not be store on the laptop. This does not mean that the thief can not “crack” the encryption however the probability of that happening is extremely low. Wake up business world and pay more attention to your security model, us customers are tired of having our personal data exposed to people who may do us harm!
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