Thousands Of City Employees' Personal Info Lost

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CHARLOTTE, N.C.,None - The personal information of more than 5,000 former and current city of Charlotte employees and elected officials has been lost, city officials said.

The city notified 5,220 people that some of their personal information was lost by a mail service provider working with Towers Watson, its benefits consulting firm. Two DVDs containing Social Security numbers were lost while being shipped from the consulting firm's Charlotte office to its Atlanta office.

VIDEO: Thousands Of City Employees' Personal Info Lost

City Councilman James Mitchell said he was notified that his information was on one of the lost DVDs.

"[I'm] very concerned and very upset because you never know in this day and time what someone is doing with that data," Mitchell said.

Tom Bartholomy at the Better Business Bureau said the incident is reason for concern.

"That's the bonanza for ID thieves," he said. "If they can get their hands on a Social Security number, that's a really good day for them."

The information lost affects people who were receiving health insurance from the city in early 2002.

The DVDs were not encrypted, meaning anyone who accesses the DVDs can access the information on them. The city said sending unencrypted data is not in accordance with the consulting firm's policies.

"We did a thorough investigation to make sure we really understood what we were dealing with," Emory Todd, with Towers Watson said.

Todd didn't elaborate on exactly how unencrypted data ended up in the mail.

The city and Towers Watson both said there is no evidence anyone's information has been used, but there's no real way to be sure.

"I don't believe there would be any way for us to know at this point," Tim Mayes, the city's human resources director, said.

Towers Watson is providing two years of identity theft monitoring through Equifax's Credit Watch for the affected people. It also set up a hot line at 888-435-6031 for people who have additional questions.