Two Oregon car burglaries in the past week have resulted in the loss of the personal information of thousands of Portland, Ore. psychology patients and unemployed state residents.

How many victims? 4,000 Portland, Ore. psychology patients and 2,900 unemployed state residents.

What happened? An unsecured laptop containing patient names, Social Security numbers and diagnoses was stolen from Oregon psychologist David Gostnell's vehicle during the weekend of Aug. 6. Separately, a data storage device containing the names and Social Security numbers of unemployed residents of Multnomah County in Oregon was stolen from the car of a Portland Community College (PCC) employee on Aug. 5.

Details: Gostnell runs a private practice in northeast Portland and works at Oregon Health & Science University. Records from patients Gostnell treated at OHSU were not on the stolen laptop.

The laptop was password-protected, but a disc left in the CD drive contained a partial backup of the hard drive, including sensitive patient information. His briefcase, which also contained patient evaluation records, also was stolen. All of those records were recovered in a nearby trash bin shortly after the theft. Gostnell does not believe the items were stolen to obtain patient information.

Meanwhile, the PCC-related burglary involved the theft of a flash drive containing the personal information of participants in the Oregon Food Stamp Employment Transition Program, which is operated at PCC and provides support and job-hunting skills for unemployed Oregon residents. A PCC employee who worked at multiple sites was transferring the data from one site to another when the theft occurred. The flash drive was in a bag that was stolen from the car.

Quote: "There is no evidence that any name or Social Security number has been used so far," said Dana Haynes, spokesman for PCC.

What was the response? Individuals who have been evaluated by Gostnell can call (877) 461-7657, if they have questions about the matter.

PCC has sent letters to affected individuals and offered them a one-year subscription for credit-protection services. The college also has posted credit protection information online.

Source: http://www.oregonlive.com/, The Oregonian, “Car thieves get personal data on Portland psychology patients, unemployed Oregonians,” Aug. 12, 2010.