Missing credit card data
March 3, 2005 7:11 PM   Subscribe

My employer requires me to have a credit card for travel. The card is issued by Bank Of America. I had to provide my social security number and much personal data to get this 'official Government Travel' card. Recently BOA lost a whole bunch of data. Should I be concerned?

Here is a link to a pdf of the letter that they sent to me and about 11,000 others. Fom what I have able to piece together, a shipment of mag tape was lost. They were backups. Is this common? Is this how these backups get moved around? I'm guessing it is possible that they are sittting in a UPS or FedEx facility somehwere. However, another possibilty is that someone has a whole bunch of data. It sounds like all they are willing to do is give me a free credit report if I holler enough. They don't have a web site so I can't look at activity. Any thoughts?
posted by fixedgear to Work & Money (4 answers total)
Chances are they will notify you of any wrong-doing with your card. As for identity theft, you are entitled under the Fair Credit Reporting Act to one free credit report a year from each of the three bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. I would advise you to check it at least once a year, particularly when you are planning to take out a loan or purchase a house/car in the near future. You can also put a consumer statement on your report saying that you were a part of the lost BoA data event and that anything on your credit report may be the result of identity theft. Hope that helps!
posted by Eideteker at 8:07 PM on March 3, 2005

In principle, yes, since it's become amply clear that the companies that are storing all this personal data do a _crappy_ job of protecting it from fraud. The type of thing they've described in the letter is all too common, and probably much more common than you would assume just from the news.

In practice, though, what're you going to do? I don't mean to be defeatist, but the fact that BofA screwed up once doesn't mean that all the other places your data is stored, like ChoicePoint, are any _more_ secure. I don't think you've really got any special cause to be more concerned about BofA than anyone else--I think you're basically just getting distracted by a coincidence. If they had required you to get a credit card from MBNA instead, would you have felt more secure? You shouldn't. It's not like BofA is some kind of paleolithic operation, and everyone else is 100% digital and secure--they all have these jury-rigged back-ends.

That being said, is this sort of thing worth going to battle over? This is just one of the ways that you're being forced to barter personal information for some benefit--if you've got a mortgage, or a student loan, or any other kind of serious credit, you've already done this. You just didn't know. Your employer's just being more upfront about it, in this case, but the real issue's much larger than this single case. It's up to you whether you make a bigger deal out of this specific case, just because you noticed it.
posted by LairBob at 8:25 PM on March 3, 2005

There is almost certainly going to be a class action suit over this. If you don't bring it, someone else will. Call your lawyer.
posted by Caviar at 8:45 PM on March 3, 2005

To answer the other question, this is common. Financial companies have to keep records for many years for legal purposes. Since they have to be able to survive an actual disaster (like the building burning down), they use off-site facilities like Iron Mountain. If they don't want to send tapes, they print out all the data in reports, box it, and store that.
posted by smackfu at 6:34 AM on March 4, 2005

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