August 9, 2006

Transport Dept laptop with personal data stolen

By Jeremy Pelofsky

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. government computer loaded
with approximately 133,000 drivers' and pilots' records --
including Social Security numbers -- was stolen last month, the
Department of Transportation said on Wednesday.

The department's Office of Inspector General said one of
its laptops was taken from a government vehicle in Doral,
Florida, on July 27. The agency is sending letters to those
whose information may have been compromised.

The theft follows the revelation this week that a computer
with up to 38,000 veterans' records was missing from the office
of a subcontractor working for the Department of Veterans
Affairs, the second computer to disappear from that agency this

The stolen Transportation Department computer included
information from more than 80,000 commercial driver's licenses
issued in the Miami-Dade County area. The data included
drivers' names, Social Security numbers and dates of birth, the
agency said.

The laptop also had 42,800 records for people issued pilot
licenses in Florida by the Federal Aviation Administration, and
9,500 Tampa area drivers' licenses, the department said. Those
records also included names, Social Security numbers, and dates
of birth.

"The laptop is password protected, and it is unlikely that
the perpetrators stole it based on any knowledge of its data
contents," the inspector general's office said in a letter to
those affected.

Those who obtained a Miami-Dade commercial driver's license
after April 2003, got a driver's license in Tampa after July
2005 or received a pilot's license after March 2003 were not
affected, the department said.

"We have taken action and will continue to take steps
necessary to prevent this from happening again," Acting DOT
Inspector General Todd Zinser said in a statement.

The information on licenses was collected as part of
investigations into possible fraud, according to the letter. A
$10,000 reward has been posted for information leading to the
recovery of the laptop, the inspector general said.

In May, a Veterans Affairs Department laptop containing
sensitive information on more than 26 million veterans and
service members was stolen. It was recovered in June and
officials said they did not believe information was taken.