Stolen Fidelity Laptop Held Sensitive Data on Retirement Accounts

March 28, 2006

A laptop computer belonging to Fidelity Investments and containing sensitive data on about 196,000 retirement-account customers was stolen last week, the company said.

The nation’s largest mutual-fund manager confirmed reports that the computer held information on participants in Palo Alto, Calif.-based Hewlett-Packard Co.’s pension and 401(k) plans. Fidelity said it alerted those affected and offered them free credit monitoring for 12 months.

The data included names, addresses, birth dates, Social Security numbers and other information that potentially could be used by identity thieves.

There is no evidence that the data has been misused, Fidelity spokeswoman Anne Crowley said. Fidelity is not disclosing where the laptop was stolen from, just that it was in the United States, she said.

Boston-based Fidelity, the sole provider of Hewlett-Packard’s defined benefit and defined contribution plans, said it would reimburse account holders for any losses linked to unauthorized transactions connected to the stolen laptop.

It is unusual to have so much information on one laptop, Crowley said, but the computer in question was brought to a business meeting by a team of employees.

Fidelity said the license to the software that contained the data has expired and, as a result, the scrambled data is difficult to interpret.

As an additional precaution to prevent misuse of the information, Fidelity has expanded the number of authentication steps required by HP plan members to access data about their accounts, Crowley said.

Fidelity is recommending that the affected Hewlett-Packard employees remain vigilant for the next year or two, regularly review account activity and obtain a credit report from one or more of the national credit reporting companies.

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