Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) Commissioner Jerry Farrell, Jr. today announced the top 25 companies with the most Connecticut residents affected by the Bank of New York Mellon data breach and that the bank has agreed to provide free identity theft protections for 4.5 million potential identity theft victims, including almost 500,000 in Connecticut.
The 497,333 state residents -- the vast majority depositors of People’s United Bank or shareholders of John Hancock, Walt Disney Company and TD Bank Financial Group -- are at risk of identity theft after a storage company hired by Bank of New York Mellon lost an unencrypted backup computer tape on Feb. 27 containing their personal financial information, including Social Security numbers, names, addresses and some bank account data.
Affected state residents will receive or have already received a letter from Bank of New York Mellon informing them their information was lost. Blumenthal and Farrell urged consumers to carefully read the letter and sign up for credit protection services offered by the bank.
Blumenthal said, “Stronger safeguards announced today at my insistence, combined with this striking information, are vital first steps to protect anyone whose highly confidential personal data was lost in this massive security breach. Anyone receiving a letter from Bank of New York Mellon should read it carefully and follow its advice, vigilantly and vigorously monitoring their credit and financial records. They should use free credit monitoring services, identity theft insurance and other measures that I demanded from the company.”
Blumenthal said, “I appreciate Bank of New York Mellon’s very encouraging cooperation, heeding my call for two years of free credit monitoring, including $25,000 in identity theft insurance, as well as free credit freezes. I urge consumers to use these free key safeguards, helping forestall criminal misuse of their confidential financial information. So far, thankfully, there are no reports of identity theft, but the risk may last months or years.”
Blumenthal said, “My investigation and fight to protect consumers will continue, joined possibly by other states. We have demanded Bank of New York Mellon give a complete, comprehensive account of this data breach. The bank must explain to consumers how it lost their information, why it took so long to inform them and law enforcement and how it will prevent future data breaches.”
Blumenthal added, “We appreciate senior management’s stated commitment to timely and full cooperation and to positive remedies and changes in security practices.”
Farrell said, “While steps should have been taken when this theft occurred to notify affected individuals, it is good that this information is finally coming out on the heels of my subpoena to Bank of New York, issued at the direction of Gov. Rell. It is particularly important that Bank of New York has now understood the importance of contacting the specific consumers affected by letter, so that all others that do business with the other financial institutions and businesses involved can understand who is affected and who is not.”
Credit freezes are one of the most effective defenses against identity theft. For a small fee, credit rating agencies “freeze” a consumer’s credit, making it impossible for anyone, including the consumer, to take out new lines of credit, such as a credit card or loan. If the consumer wishes to obtain new credit, he or she pays another small fee to un-freeze their information.
The businesses contracted with Bank of New York Mellon to provide services concerning shareholders or potential shareholders. The businesses gave the bank the lost consumer information so the Bank of New York Mellon could perform these administrative services.
People’s United Bank, Hudson City Bank and Viewpoint Bank provided depositor information as part of their conversions from mutual banks -- institutions owed by the depositors -- to stock banks. As part of the conversion process, depositors were offered stock in the converted bank. The rest of the affected Connecticut residents are company shareholders.
The 25 companies with the most affected Connecticut residents are:
- People's United Financial Inc. - 403,894
- John Hancock Financial Services, Inc. (acquired by Manulife Financial Corporation)- 33,586
- The Walt Disney Company - 18,361
- TD Bank Financial Group - 9,389
- The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation - 3,324
- Hudson United Bancorp (acquired by TD Bank Financial Group) – 2,703
- United Parcel Service, Inc. -2,075
- Wachovia Corporation - 1,479
- MetLife, Inc. -1,373
- Hudson City Bancorp - 601
- Eastman Kodak Company - 456
- Burlington Resources (acquired by ConocoPhillips Inc.)- 447
- Providian Financial (acquired by Washington Mutual, Inc.) - 404
- Penn Fed Financial (acquired by New York Community Bancorp)- 360
- ADESA, Inc. - 277
- Alcatel-Lucent -243
- Odyssey America Reinsurance Corporation - 232
- Seacoast Financials Services Corp. (acquired by Sovereign Bancorp)-216
- Viewpoint Bank - 213
- Diamond Shamrock (acquired by ConocoPhillips Inc.) - 211
- Sound Federal Bancorp (acquired by Hudson City Bancorp) -199
- Big Lots, Inc. - 192
- Guidant Corporation (acquired by Boston Scientific Corp)- 126
- New York Community Bancorp - 126
- ACE Ltd. - 119
Consumers with questions should call Bank of New York Mellon’s toll free hotlines, (877) 278-3451 or (877) 278-3461.