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Saturday 22nd of November 2008
February 14, 2007

Building society fined in stolen laptop case


by Elaine Frei

Building society fined in stolen laptop case

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has fined the Nationwide Building Society £980,000 as a result of the theft of a laptop computer from a Nationwide employee’s home last year. Nationwide, it was found, did not even begin an investigation into the theft until three weeks after it occurred. The employee had taken the computer home for legitimate reasons and reported the theft to the company as soon as it occurred. However, he waited for three weeks - until after he had returned from a holiday - to let the company know that there had been customer information on the computer.

The FSA has not said exactly what information was on the computer, but it could have had the names addresses, and account numbers of nearly 11 million Nationwide customers. Nationwide claims that the information could not have been used to steal the identities of the customers because there were no passwords, PIN numbers or account balances among the information on the computer.

In levying the fine, the FSA said that because it had not managed or monitored the download of the information on the computer, it showed that the company had only limited control over the information and how it was used. It also said that the customers of the building society had a right to expect that “reasonable steps” would be taken to make sure that their confidential information was secure.

After knowledge of the theft became public in November, the Nationwide sent a letter of apology to its customers. The company has not said whether the employee involved in the incident has been let go or otherwise disciplined.

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