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Unknown number of victims in Hortica Insurance backup tape loss; laptops stolen from Chicago Public Schools

An unknown number of clients of the Florists' Mutual Insurance Company had their personal information lost when a locked shipping case containing magnetic backup tapes was misplaced in transit.

The tapes were lost while being transported by UPS from an off-site facility to the headquarters of Hortica Insurance, the parent company of Florists’ Mutual Insurance Company, according to a statement released Friday by Hortica.

The tapes likely contain the names, Social Security numbers, drivers’ license numbers and bank account numbers of the agency’s claimholders, according to a company statement.

UPS notified the Edwardsville, Ill.-based organization on Thursday that it had exhausted its internal recovery process, according to Hortica, which had been working with the shipping giant to locate the tapes.

Robert McClellan, Hortica president and CEO, said in a press release that there is no indication that any personal information has been accessed.

"UPS and law enforcement agencies have no evidence to indicate an unauthorized individual has possession of the tapes," he said. "It is important for customers to note that these tapes cannot be read without specific computer equipment and software."

Peter H. Fornof, Hortica senior vice president, told today that there was no update on the tapes’ status.

McClellan added that Hortica has changed its procedures to avoid shipment by common carrier.

The company also advised clients to review account statements, report any suspicious activity and place a fraud alert on credit files.

Paul Stephens, policy analyst at the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, told that many companies aren’t sure how much personal information they have in their possession.

"In some situations, you just have companies that don’t have a handle on it," he said. "With TJX, you have a company where they still don’t know how many people have been impacted."

Meanwhile, the Chicago Public Schools announced today that two laptops owned by an accounting firm conducting a review of contributions to the Chicago Teacher Pension Fund were stolen on Friday.

The laptops contain the names and Social Security numbers of employees who contributed to the pension fund between 2003 and 2006, according to a district statement.

The data does not include addresses, dates of birth or other personal information, according to the district, which has released a videotape of a suspect to the Chicago Police Department and local media.

Public school officials have offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest or the recovery of stolen data, as well as a year of credit protection for any current or former employee affected by the theft.

Last month, Magellan Behavioral Health Services located a CD containing the personal and medical information of 75,000 customers of Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

Health Data Management Solutions, a third-party vendor to Magellan, had lost the data when it was sent via UPS.

The CD contained the Social Security numbers, health plan ID numbers and descriptions of medical services rendered.

Click here to email Online Editor Frank Washkuch Jr.



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