Saturday October 13, 2012

TONY DOBROWOLSKI

The Berkshire Eagle

BOSTON -- TD Bank has notified the state Attorney General’s Office that it lost unencrypted back-up tapes containing personal information such as Social Security numbers and account information for 73,000 customers in Massachusetts.

The bank says it plans to send notice to more than 267,000 potentially affected customers nationwide beginning this week. The two data tapes were lost in March, according to the Attorney General’s office.

"The loss of these tapes potentially puts the personal information of thousands of Massachusetts customers at risk, and we remind consumers to take appropriate steps to protect themselves," Attorney General Martha Coakley said in a statement.

"We will be reviewing the circumstances of this breach and the steps that TD Bank is taking to address the loss," she said.

Locally, TD Bank operates branches on Merrill Road in Pittsfield, North Adams, Williamstown, and in Bennington, Vt. It could not be determined on Friday how the lost tapes would affect the bank’s customers in Berkshire County.

TD Bank spokeswoman Rebecca Acevedo said the figures regarding affected customers had not been broken down locally or regionally, just by state.

Acevedo declined to say how the tapes were lost, but said TD Bank had been conducting its own investigation into the matter before it decided to notify the state Attorney General’s Office.

"We have been doing a thorough investigation in every sense of what that word means," she said.

She said that TD Bank has no evidence that any of the personal information contained on the missing tapes has been compromised. But according to the state Attorney General’s office, the bank has not ruled out that possibility.

TD Bank intends to sends letter to the customers whose information was on the lost tapes. Acevedo stressed that only the affected customers will receive letters from the bank.

"Those who get the letter should read the information and act on it," she said. "Each individual has their own concerns and we want to help them through this. We have different options."

The personal information belonging to state residents on the lost tapes may have included names, addresses, Social Security numbers, account numbers or other data including dates of birth and driver’s license numbers, according to the state Attorney General’s Office.

The state Attorney General’s Office suggest consumers follow these steps to protect themselves against potential identity theft:

1. Affected customers should take advantage of the credit monitoring services being offered by the bank.

2. Do not respond to unsolicited emails, telephone calls, or mailings that ask for credit card numbers, credit card security codes, Social Security numbers, or bank account numbers.

3. Carefully review and monitor your credit card or other financial accounts for any unauthorized activity and monitor your credit reports.

4. Call one of the three major credit bureaus -- Equifax, Experion, or TransUnion -- and place a one-call fraud alert on your credit report.