May 7, 2008
WASHINGTON – More than 1,300 SAIC stockholders are at risk of identity theft after a box of magnetic backup tapes went missing in New Jersey earlier this year.
The tapes owned by Bank of New York Mellon, which acts as stock transfer agent for SAIC, contained names, addresses, Social Security numbers, stock account information, transaction activity and possibly bank account numbers for 1,376 current or former shareholders, said the San Diego company also known as Science Applications International Corp.
Mellon said yesterday that it has no evidence that the information has been misused. The bank said the tapes have not been found more than two months after they were lost.
The loss was discovered Feb. 27, when a vendor working for Mellon reported that a metal box containing six magnetic tapes of backup data for stock transactions was missing in transit to a storage facility in Jersey City.
“We have been monitoring the affected accounts and reviewing reports from the credit monitoring service,” Mellon said in a statement. “We have no evidence suggesting that any of the data has been inappropriately accessed or used.”
Linda Foley, founder of Identity Theft Resource Center, a nonprofit organization in San Diego, expressed concern about the loss of information.
“Social Security numbers are the Holy Grail of identity theft,” Foley said, because they can be used to assume another person's identity.
She said it's “hard to judge the seriousness” of the incident because it's unknown whether the tapes were lost or stolen. It would be more serious if they were stolen.
Mellon declined to say how many companies or shareholders were affected.
Laura Luke, a spokeswoman for SAIC, said the tapes included information from a “very long list of clients” of Mellon in addition to those of SAIC.
The number of shareholders affected is at least in the thousands. In Maryland, 4,690 shareholders from unidentified companies were affected, according to a March 20 letter to the Maryland attorney general from a Mellon attorney. Maryland law requires the state to be notified when an information security breach affects state residents.
SAIC said its shareholders whose personal data was on the tapes should have been notified by Mellon, which began sending out letters March 21. The bank is offering 12 months of free credit monitoring to those affected, and personal assistance from a fraud resolution representative in case of identify theft.
SAIC shareholders who have questions can call a toll-free number established by Mellon at (877) 277-8001.
According to a statement on its Web site, SAIC said it had no plans to replace Mellon because the bank was “uniquely situated to support our current needs related to a dual class of securities in which one class is publicly traded and the other is not.”
SAIC has experienced its own security breaches. In July 2007, the company reported that a computerized database containing personal data on military personnel might have been compromised. Two years earlier, several desktop computers containing personal information were stolen in a burglary.