GE Money, which handles credit card operations for retailers, said Thursday night that it has misplaced a backup tape containing the personal information of some 650,000 customers of JC Penney and as many as 100 other retail businesses, according to an Associated Press report.
The missing information, which includes Social Security numbers for about 150,000 people, was on a tape that was discovered missing last October. It was being stored at a warehouse run by Iron Mountain Inc., a data storage company, and was never checked out but cant be found either, said Richard C. Jones, a spokesman for GE Money, part of General Electric Capital Corp.
Jones declined to identify the other retailers whose customers' information is missing, but said "it includes many of the large retail organizations."
Iron Mountain spokesman Dan O'Neill said it would take specialized skills for someone to glean the personal data from the tape. He said the company regretted losing the tape, "but because of the volume of information we handle and the fact people are involved, we have occasionally made mistakes."
It took GE Money two months to reconstruct the missing tape and identify the people whose information was lost. Since December, the company has been notifying consumers in batches of several thousand and telling them to phone a call center set up to deal with the breach. The notification is expected to be completed next week.
Tim Wilson, Site Editor, Dark Reading