Credit card operations service GE Money said the personal and contact information for about 650,000 customers of up to 230 of its retail partners, including J.C. Penney, could be compromised due to a missing computer tape.
According to Richard Jones, VP of communications for GE Money Americas, which handles credit card operations for many of these retailers, the missing information includes names, addresses and account numbers. Additionally, 150,000 Social Security numbers were on the tape.
The company began notifying customers in November. GE Money is taking steps to prevent these consumers from becoming victim to identity theft.
“We are providing 12 months of credit monitoring services to the 150,000 consumers whose Social Security numbers were on the tape,” Jones said. “We consider this information the most sensitive.”
Data storage company Iron Mountain, Inc. was storing the information in a warehouse on a backup computer tape when it went missing October 2007. Jones said the tape was one of about nine that were checked into Iron Mountain’s vault in 2006.
“The tapes are bar-coded and scanned, so there’s a record,” he said. “We are 100% sure the tape was checked in.” But, there is no record of the tape being checked out.
According to Jones, an exhaustive search effort took place for the missing tape both in the vault and in GE Money’s offices. In November GE Money began reconstructing the data that was on the tape.
GE Money did not speculate as to how the tape could have gone missing.
“We’re not aware of anything like this happening before,” Jones said. “We’re optimistic that the tape will show up, but this hasn’t happened as of yet.”