Today GE Money reported that a data tape containing personal information on 650,000 customers from “about 230 retailers including J.C. Penney Co” is missing. Social Security numbers for about 150,000 customers were also on the tape. It was “being stored at a facility operated by Iron Mountain Inc, an information protection and storage company,” but there’s no evidence currently that it was stolen—it may just be sitting somewhere in a vast matte-painted warehouse like the Ark of the Covenant. However, it may also be the source of the recent wave of ID theft issues we’ve noticed.
Iron Mountain says it’s been missing for a while, but that even if it was stolen it should be hard to access data on it:
In a statement, Iron Mountain said it notified GE Money of the missing tape in October, and added that there has been no evidence suggesting that the identity of any person had been compromised.
“We believe this is an unfortunate case of a misplaced tape,” Iron Mountain’s statement said. “We also understand the tape was created in such a manner to make unauthorized access extremely unlikely and difficult, even for experts with specialized knowledge and technology.”
GE Money isn’t naming the other retailers whose customers were on the tape, but they did say, “It’s many of the large national retailers as well as some smaller regional ones.” They say they’re mailing letters out to everyone whose name was on the tape, and offering a year of free credit report monitoring to those whose SSNs were included.