There have been several recent incidents where personal data stored on computers has been compromised. On Monday, Time Warner announced it had lost backup tapes with names and social security numbers and other personal data on 600,000 employees.

That followed similar reports of lost backup tapes from Bank of America in February and Ameritrade in April. There have also been a rash of other reports of stolen personal information due to hacking and thefts. For example, last month, hackers breached the LexisNexis databases with stolen passwords, potentially compromising personal information on 310,000 people. This article lists several more such incidents this year.

Although this is a disturbing trend, it’s interesting to note that none of the incidents so far have involved any retailers engaged in online shopping. In fact, none of the stolen records were assembled from online sources. There’s still no evidence that online shopping or online financial transactions are not secure.

From the Irony Department: one of my family members got a letter from LexisNexis, identifying her as one of the people whose personal information might have been compromised. She was offered various protections, including a free credit report and a fraud watch on her account at Experian, the credit reporting agency. To take advantage of the offer, she was asked to go to Experian’s web site . . . and input all of her personal information, including social security number. Although the letter was apparently legitimate, it was indistinguishable from a phishing scam.

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