IRS Laptops Stolen
This might not be news to you, but some of the facts might be. Did you know that between January 2003 through mid-June 2006, approximately 490 laptop computers were stolen from the homes, cars, and offices of IRS personnel?
The problem? An estimated 40% of the information stored on those computers contained personal taxpayer information. Information that probably included minor information such as names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, and employment information. If you were someone looking to steal someone's identity, could you find a more valuable mine of information than an IRS laptop? Oh, wait...we're talking about the government. The information was encoded and protected so that no one could possible break the code and get the information. Not a government agency. Never happen.
Let's see now. The IRS says each laptop probably had information for 10-15 cases. Let's go with the smaller figure: 10 cases. That's ten cases multiplied by 490 equals 4900 cases. Let's say that of those 4900 cases, 44% had personal information (multiplying on fingers and toes)....that's 2,156 cases where personal information could (and I do emphasize could) have leaked to people with less than noble intentions.
Remember, just because Crook A steals a laptop and doesn't use the information himself, doesn't mean Crook A isn't smart enough to sell the laptop to Crook B. Or, Crook A sells the laptop to Fence A who knows Crook B. Crook B is looking for personal information to sell to illegal immigrants, criminals looking for another identity, or Identity Thief A. Of course, Fence A might be the one selling the information, and avoiding the middleman (Crook B).
But of course, we're talking about the IRS. Surely a governmental agency would take special care of it's taxpayer's personal information.