Data theft prompts Sealaska to offer credit protection

Company spokesman says stolen information not likely target of crime

Posted: Wednesday, July 23, 2008

After private company data was stolen from one of its employees, Sealaska Corp. arranged this week for its shareholders to sign up with a credit protection service.

"We believe that unauthorized access to your name, address and Social Security number by the thieves is unlikely, but we cannot know for sure," wrote Chris McNeil Jr., president and CEO of Sealaska, in a letter to shareholders.

Sealaska is required by law to tell its shareholders if their personal data is at risk.

Sealaska spokesman Todd Antioquia said he couldn't describe where, when or how the theft occurred, but he said it wasn't at Sealaska headquarters in Juneau.

"We don't believe the data was the target of the crime," he said.

He said "state and federal agencies" are investigating, though he would not say which agencies. He declined to elaborate on any other details of the crime.

An Alaska State Troopers spokeswoman said the agency did not appear to be involved.

After the theft, Sealaska negotiated with LifeLock Institutional Breach Services, a credit protection service, to cover its shareholders in case of identity theft from the incident.

"We take the protection of our shareholders very seriously," Antioquia said.

After a shareholder enrolls, LifeLock will sign that person up for fraud alerts with the three major credit agencies and renew the alerts every 90 days when they expire.

Anyone can have a free fraud alert put on his or her own credit report, but Antioquia said the service is valuable.

"You can institute these measures on your own. But it takes time to do that, and you have to be diligent about resubmitting the requests," Antioquia said.

He also said that if a shareholder who has signed up is targeted by a fraudster, LifeLock will fix the problem. That could save people time.

Antioquia said he could not say how much Sealaska was paying for the service, but said the deal was "significantly reduced" from the roughly $2.1 million that it would cost the company to sign up all shareholders at LifeLock's Web-advertised price of $110 a year for individuals.

Shareholders have until October to sign up for the fraud protection service, which will last through July 17, 2009.

Asked how the expense would affect annual dividends passed to shareholders, Antioquia said, "It is a corporate expense, and any expense does affect your financial statements."

He also said dividends from Sealaska operating revenues are based on an average of the company's profits over five years, so the net effect of the expense would be spread out over the next five years.

Sealaska is Southeast's regional Alaska Native corporation, and has more than 19,000 shareholders.

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