It seems that a backup tape for customer data, including social security numbers, has been missing since last October. GE Money which handles account information for JC Penny and others has stated that some 650,000 customers may be at risk. But what is really news here is the way that GE Money has handled this data loss. It seems that GE Money has sent out letters to those who’s records may have been lost, but that many users may have thought the letter was junk mail and not an important announcement.

Let’s face it. Most of us who received junk mail simply toss out the mail without opening it. If we don’t recognize the mail as being from a company that we deal with, out it goes. In this case it could be exactly what happened and many customers do not realize their data may have been lost. The article from CNN Money states:

 Incidents like this add to consumer concern about fraud. The Identity Theft Resource Center says there was a six-fold increase last year in the number of records reported compromised in the United States — to 125 million.

Data breaches can stem from hacking, as well as the physical loss or theft of computers of data storage equipment.

It took GE Money two months to reconstruct the missing tape and identify the people whose information was lost. Since December, the company has been notifying consumers in batches of several thousand and telling them to phone a call center set up to deal with the breach. The notification is expected to be completed next week.

Has anyone received a notification from GE Money? Let us know.

Comments welcome.

Complete CNN Money article is here.

[tags]ge money, jc penny, customers, lost data, tape, storage, notification, social security numbers,  [/tags]