Bank of New York oops: 4 million identities compromised

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If you're a customer of Bank of New York Mellon, your personal data may have been compromised and you might be at greater risk of identity theft. In February, the bank lost a box of backup tapes that contained data on 4 million customers.

And now, months later, they're getting around to telling you. The bank started informing customers about six weeks ago. But that's not very prompt to me! At the very least, the lost data includes Social Security numbers and names and addresses. At the worst, it also includes account numbers and financial details.

Bank of New York is offering those affected "free" credit monitoring service for a year. Yahoo! If someone opens a credit account in your name and using the details supplied by Bank of New York, you will be notified!!! Good luck cleaning up that mess.
I realize that we're in a different day and age when it comes to technology and our personal data. But financial institutions owe it to us to be careful with our information. The "oops, sorry" only goes so far with me.

I had my personal data compromised by a professional organization two years ago, and it wasn't cool. I signed up for credit monitoring and my details weren't used by any thieves. But the potential was there and I didn't appreciate it. Why does it seem like incidents with personal data are becoming more common? And why does it seem like a little "sorry" and some "credit monitoring" (which is often an after-the-fact notification) is supposed to make it all better?

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.
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