Alaska reaches settlement with firm on lost data

Posted: Friday, January 29, 2010

A major accounting firm has agreed to provide credit protection for more than 77,000 current and former public employees whose personal information it lost, Alaska Attorney General Dan Sullivan said Thursday.

PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP discovered it had lost the data in early December but didn't notify the state of it until last week, he said. The state pushed for a settlement, rather than suing, seeing it as a quicker remedy, Sullivan said.

The company's general counsel, Charles Gerdts, confirmed the settlement.

If Alaskans avail themselves of the protections offered, Sullivan said, the settlement could reach into the tens of millions of dollars.

Sullivan said the data includes names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers for people who were in the public employee and teachers' retirement systems in 2003 and 2004. He declined to say what form the data was in, and didn't rule out the possibility PricewaterhouseCoopers might recover it.

Neither Sullivan nor Gov. Sean Parnell immediately knew if their information was among that lost. Commissioner of Administration Annette Kreitzer said hers is. The state planned to send letters to those affected, informing them of the protections available and how to obtain them.

PricewaterhouseCoopers had the data in its role as a state expert witness in a lawsuit the state has filed against its former actuary, Mercer, over work Mercer had done.

In a written statement, Gerdts said PricewaterhouseCoopers "regrets that the information was misplaced while under our control, and has made a significant commitment in reaching this resolution expeditiously. "

The state has a toll-free number public employees and retirees with concerns can call: 1-800-821-2251.

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