SterlingBackcheck reports stolen laptop contained background check information on job applicants (updated)

On May 29, a laptop with a spread sheet containing an undisclosed number of job applicants’ names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers was stolen from a SterlingBackcheck employee’s car. SterlingBackcheck (a trademark of Sterling Infosystems) learned of the theft on May 30, and notified law enforcement.

The personal information in the spreadsheet came from two sources: the job applicants themselves, or from SterlingBackcheck’s clients who hired them to run background checks.  SterlingBackcheck’s site claims that the firm serves over 20,000 customers around the world, including a quarter of the Fortune 100.

In those cases where the information came from the job applicants, SterlingBackcheck has begun sending notification letters to those individuals on or about August 3. In those cases where the information came from its clients, SterlingBackcheck is notifying the clients and offering to contact the applicants directly as well as notifying any regulators, etc.

SterlingBackcheck is offering those affected at least one year of services with AllClear ID. They are also reviewing their privacy and security procedures, retraining employees, and installing encryption and remote deletion software on mobile devices.

Their external counsel’s July 31st notification to the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office indicates that SterlingBackcheck is unaware of any misuse of the information on the stolen laptop.

Aug. 13: See update here. This breach reportedly affected 100,000 people. Why so many background checks were on a laptop, why the laptop was left in a car, and why the data weren’t encrypted is…. troubling, to say the least.


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9 comments to “SterlingBackcheck reports stolen laptop contained background check information on job applicants (updated)”

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  1. Sandie - August 11, 2015

    I am one of the people that rec’d a letter. How in the world is an employee allowed to leave a laptop in their CAR that stores all this personal information.?! I am SO PISSED I can’t even describe it. This company better hope our identity isn’t stolen or they will be facing one hell of a lawsuit!

    • Tara - August 12, 2015

      Same here. Just got my letter and I’m very pissed. I was hired by my employee and started in April of 2015. I’d like to know why the hell they still had all my information after a month of having the background check done. Very sloppy work by the company and I hope this employmee was fired for this very dumb mistake. You don’t leave a computer in a car!

  2. Carolyn - August 12, 2015

    I just received my Sterling Backcheck letter today. Earlier I sent my husband an e-mail telling him how proud I am that we have a good credit rating. I am wondering how much damage this Sterling disaster will do to my credit score, even if the laptop thief doesn’t sell my information to the highest bidder! Here is a company that is supposed to be investigating weather teachers (or other employees) are a bad risk to hire, and they can’t even keep our information safe. Who is the idiot who put my sensitive information on their lap top, and left it in their car or a subway or a trolly??!!! Trust me, your kids are much safer with me, than my information is with Sterlingbackcheck.

  3. Lanise - August 14, 2015

    I am also one that recieved an email from my employer telling me that I was one of 197 people affected by this nonsense! I’m not understanding how a background check company employee was so careless! Seems a little fishy to me! An password protected laptop with an unencrypted excel file left in a car???? I see a class action coming!

    • Dissent - August 14, 2015

      I have no doubt that there will be a potential class action lawsuit over this. Whether it can prevail is another story… So far, SterlingBackcheck continues to state that there is no evidence of any misuse of the information on the stolen laptop. Without evidence of cognizable harm or injury, lawsuits are difficult to win.

  4. Patriot19 - August 15, 2015

    > Worse yet, this happened TWO WEEKS prior to giving an employer PERMISSION to run it!
    I suspect these companies who are making BILLIONS from OUR PERSONAL PRIVATE INFORMATION are not so well run and
    just more typical “its just business” sorry bullshit while the “executives” rcv their huge bonuses. They violate the Constitution/Billof Rights Unreasonable Search and Seizure EVERY SECOND.

    • Dissent - August 15, 2015

      The Bill of Rights/Constitution represents your rights with respect to your government – not private businesses. Other laws regulate the conduct of businesses.

      • Patriot19 - August 15, 2015

        No shit I am aware of that and that needs to change.

  5. Jshort33 - August 18, 2015

    I received a letter as well, I’m not even sure who ran my background other than cvs Caremark here in Tennessee

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