Mar 092011
 

Penn Mutual Life Insurance reports that a former employee may have accessed and disclosed customer information.

Through their lawyers, Penn Mutual informed the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office on February 1 that despite their forensic efforts, they were not able to determine definitively which customer accounts were improperly accessed, but they believe that the employee may have improperly accessed and disclosed names, addresses, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, and bank account information for “a number of our accounts.”

The matter was referred to federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the Secret Service is also involved in the investigation.

Because they could not determine precisely which accounts were accessed improperly or disclosed, the company decided to notify all customers whose accounts the employee was known to access, even though many of those accesses were likely appropriate and job-related.

To their credit, the opening paragraph of their notification to customers minces no words:

We are writing to make you aware that a former employee of the Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company (“Penn Mutual”) accessed unlawfully from our records personal information of some of our clients and disclosed that information to others.

The rest of their notification later is written is a no-nonsense and very human tone, and even provides them with the Secret Service phone number and case number.

If I have any criticisms of their post-breach handling and reporting, it’s that; (1) they do not indicate when the breach(es) occurred – how long was this person in their employ and for how long might this have been going on?  (2) what steps have they taken  to prevent future recurrences of this type of incident? and (3) their phone support is only available during working hours Mon-Friday instead of having some evening or weekend hours for phone support.

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