Laptop with credit card info for 80,000 DOJ workers stolen

It was taken from a Virginia travel agency three weeks ago

The FBI and Fairfax, Va., police are investigating the theft of a laptop containing the names and credit card numbers of about 80,000 U.S. Department of Justice workers.

Gina Talamona, a DOJ spokeswoman, said the laptop was stolen between May 7 and May 9 from the Fairfax, Va., headquarters of Omega World Travel, a travel agency used by the DOJ for its employees.

The computer did not contain employees' personal information, such as home addresses, office addresses or Social Security numbers, Talamona said. All the data was password-protected to prevent unauthorized access.

"We don't provide to Omega the kind of information that's typically used for identity theft," she said.

The credit cards were issued by J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and by Bank One Corp., she said, and since the theft occurred, there have been "no indications that there has been any [unauthorized] activity on the cards."

The DOJ did not cancel all of the credit cards immediately because many DOJ workers are traveling and would be affected by a mass cancellation during their trips, Talamona said. The agency is working with affected workers to determine how best to protect their accounts, she said.

At the DOJ's request, Omega World Travel is bolstering security to better protect such information in the future, she said. The travel agency has added unspecified physical security measures and an off-hours security patrol. It is also doing a complete security review.

Electronic Data Systems Inc., a prime contractor for the department, has also put measures in place to prevent the stolen laptop from being connected to the DOJ's network, Talamona said.

Spokesmen for the Fairfax County police and for Omega World Travel declined to comment today on the incident.

The incident follows a recent string of data theft cases. Last week, Bank of America Corp. officials confirmed that information on about 60,000 customers was stolen by a New Jersey data-theft ring, which is thought to be at the center of the largest U.S. banking security breach in history (see story).

Other data theft cases have involved lost backup tapes, stolen laptops and desktop PCs, and network intrusions.

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