Retiree data stolen

Aetna health-care benefits company says risk is slight

Posted: Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Aetna health-care benefits company, which has managed accounts for 68,000 State of Alaska retirees, has notified 660 of them that their personal data has been stolen.

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Those affected by the theft from an Aetna subcontractor have been personally informed, said Cynthia Michener, a company spokesperson.

They've also been offered a year's free credit monitoring service, she said.

One of those notified locally was Barbara Belknap, a retired state employee.

"I decided to do what they suggested I do," she said.

The credit monitoring service will protect Belknap if someone should use the stolen information to apply for credit in her name.

"I decided to go ahead and do it," she said. "It's one of those things you'd really kick yourself if you didn't follow through and then something happens."

Michener said the data was taken from a company called Concentra Preferred Systems in an office building burglary. Thieves took petty cash and numerous items easily converted to cash such as DVDs and movie passes, as well as a lockbox containing backup computer tapes with the data.

It is unlikely that identity thieves will get the information, she said, because it is on an uncommon type of data cassette that, even if accessed, would then take two kinds of backup and data recovery software to read.

"There is a very low likelihood the data will ever be accessed," she said.

Aetna used to work for the State of Alaska, but the state changed companies last July. Concentra's job was to audit medical claims, and thus had the old information, she said.

There may be additional Alaskans affected who were covered by other companies, she said. Concentra provided audit services for many other health plans.

Aetna has been among the first to notify plan sponsors and members of the risk, she said.

• Pat Forgey can be reached at

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