Data breaches: is anyone safe?

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Another month, another data breach by a major U.S. company. Wait--make that several U.S. companies.

Those who haven't been exposed to possible ID theft by their bank, credit card company, or favorite store, should consider themselves extremely lucky thus far.

In April, Time Warner said it lost computer backup tapes containing sensitive data, including the names and Social Security numbers of 600,000 current and former employees, their dependents and beneficiaries, and individuals who have provided services for the company. Time Warner says the data, stored on 40 tapes, disappeared more than one month ago while being shipped to an offsite storage center.

Also in April, DSW Shoe Warehouse admitted that a data breach--suffered when thieves accessed one of its databases and stole credit card numbers and names--exposed 1.4 million customers, 10 times more than the company had estimated in March. The thefts happened at 108 stores in 25 states between November and February. Besides the credit card numbers, the thieves obtained driver's license numbers and checking account numbers from 96,000 transactions involving checks, the company said. Customer names, addresses, and Social Security numbers were not stolen, it said.

In May, what is perhaps the biggest security breach to date in the banking industry affected customers of several large U.S. banks. This time, personal information was sold by employees. Bank of America Corp. and Wachovia Corp. are among the banks notifying more than...

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