Marriott Notifies 206,000 of Data Breach

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Marriott International Inc. this week began notifying 206,000 people that backup computer tapes containing personal data were missing from its Orlando, FL, office.


The company's Dec. 27 statement said the tapes contained Social Security numbers, bank account and credit card numbers for 206,000 employees, timeshare owners and timeshare customers of its Marriott Vacation Club International division.


Marriott's vacation club division alerted authorities and began an internal investigation but has not said when the loss of the tapes was discovered. It started sending letters to the affected consumers on Dec. 24 and is offering the victims free credit monitoring services.


It is unclear whether the data on the tapes was encrypted.


Other high profile data breaches this year involving lost computer tapes this year involved tapes being shipped to various locations. Though it does not appear that the Marriott incident involved tapes lost in transit, some would still question the storage of such sensitive data in a physical format.


On Dec. 17 national mortgage provider ABN AMRO Mortgage Group Inc., a subsidiary of LaSalle Bank Corp., began notifying consumers that a computer tape containing personal information on 2 million residential mortgage customers was lost.


Though the tape was found four days later by DHL, the courier shipping it to consumer credit bureau Experian's Allen, TX, facility, ABN said it has suspended shipping data on tapes in favor of encrypted electronic transmission.


Other data breaches have not been resolved so favorably this year.


In June, CitiFinancial, a consumer lending branch of Citigroup, New York, said it had begun notifying 3.9 million of its U.S. branch network customers that computer tapes containing personal information were lost on the way to a credit bureau.


Bank of America similarly confirmed Feb. 25 that some of its computer data tapes containing personal and account information for 1.2 million federal government charge card program customers were lost during shipment to a backup data center.


Kristen Bremner covers list news, insert media, privacy and fundraising for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters


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