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Hotels.com's Customer Names, Credit-Card Data Stolen

About 243,000 customers' names and credit card numbers were in a laptop stolen in February from the car of an employee of accounting firm Ernst & Young LLP, Hotels.com's auditor, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

The theft, which occurred in a Texas parking lot, appeared to be random, according to Ernst & Young.

"We have no indication that the thief was specifically targeting the laptop or any information contained on it," Kenneth Kerrigan, a spokesman for the firm told TechWeb in an email.

Following the theft, it took Ernst & Young more than a couple of months to determine what was on the hard drive, the newspaper reported. A spokesman for Hotels.com, which is owned by Expedia Inc., said the online company was notified in early May and started notifying customers last week. The delay was caused, in part, by having to check the names of the credit card holders, since the person on a hotel reservation may not necessarily be the one who paid for the room.

"A hundred percent of our time has been spent getting to customers quickly and figuring out which customers were affected," the spokesman said. "We haven't had much time to look back and point fingers and figure out who's to blame."

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