Identity thieves may have obtained sensitive information about thousands of Wells Fargo mortgage and student loan customers, after four computers containing customer account numbers and Social Security numbers were stolen last month.

The incident occurred in mid-October, when the computers were stolen from the Atlanta office of Regulus Integrated Solutions, a vendor that prints the loan statements for the bank. The computers also contained customers' names and addresses.

The theft marks the third time in roughly a year and a half that computers housing Wells Fargo mortgage customers' personal data were stolen.

"To this date, in all these incidents, we have had no indication anyone's information was compromised," Kevin Waetke, a Wells Fargo spokesman, said Wednesday, adding that the bank considers each case an isolated incident. "We have always reviewed our policy around our security measures and take such steps as encrypting data when possible and making sure our information is password protected."

In the Atlanta case, no passwords or personal identification numbers were housed in the computers, he said. Wells Fargo began issuing warning letters on Oct. 25 to customers whose data was housed on the stolen computers. Those customers will be offered 12 months of free enrollment in Wells Fargo's identity protection program, Waetke said.

Wells Fargo declined to release the number of loan holders affected by the latest theft but noted it was a small percentage of its total pool of 4.9 million mortgage customers and 890,000 student loan holders. Waetke said the number of customers affected was in the "thousands."

In the other two cases, a Wells Fargo vendor in Concord, Calif., had several items stolen in November 2003, including a desktop that contained personal data of the bank's mortgage and home equity customers. And in March of last year, a St. Louis bank employee's car was stolen. In the bag was a laptop containing customers' sensitive mortgage data, Waetke said. The car was later recovered, but the laptop was not.

CNET News
_________________________
Good artists copy, great artists
steal.

-Picasso