Network Computing is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Data On 28,279 Nationwide Customers Stolen

Nationwide Mutual Insurance is notifying 28,279 customers of its health insurance unit, Nationwide Health Plans, that their data was stolen during an Oct. 26 burglary of the offices of a subcontractor.

Concenta Preferred Systems of Waymouth, Mass., audits medical claims for hospital stays of Nationwide customers and stored its backup tapes containing the customer information in a lockbox. The tapes included hospital stay information, medical data, and Social Security numbers for the customers.

The box was taken during an Oct. 26 theft, along with computers, DVD players, and other electronic gear that appeared to have immediate street value, says Nationwide spokesman Mike Switzer. To find the information on the tapes requires "a very specific high-tech tape reader with matching software," that police concluded was unlikely to be accessible to the thieves, says Switzer.

If such a reader were used, the data is still "in a functionally encoded and restricted state. It would look like gobbledygook" to anyone who was not a skilled auditor of the data, he says.

There has been no reported misuse of customer data since the burglary, but Nationwide is only now informing customers that their data was stolen. Switzer says Nationwide is offering customers free identify theft insurance and credit monitoring for a year.

  • 1