Connecticut state officials acknowledged this week that an employee laptop housing thousands of taxpayer names and Social Security numbers was stolen about 11 days ago. But, they said, there's no indication at this point that the information has been used in a fraudulent manner.
According to published reports, the affected taxpayers will be notified by letter. The state Department of Revenue Services is also setting up a Web page citizens can use to research whether their personal data was stored on the laptop. The agency is also setting up a toll-free number people can call to ask questions about the theft.
The stated waited 11 days to announce the theft because agency staff had to determine what was on the laptop and who might be affected, agency spokeswoman Sarah Kaufman, told The Hartford Courant.
"The last thing we wanted to do was create any kind of panic and make [taxpayers] think their identities had been stolen when that hadn't been the case," Kaufman said. The employee responsible for the laptop reported it stolen Aug. 17, she said. The laptop was not in the office at the time of the theft. The agency will continue to investigate the matter.
Misplaced or stolen laptops have become a growing security problem. The biggest case of personal data being exposed to possible fraud due to such an incident occurred at the U.S. Department of Veterans Services (VA) last year, when a laptop computer housing the personal data of 26.5 million veterans and about 2.2 million active duty personnel was stolen from the home of a department employee. The laptop was eventually recovered.