Laptop Computers with Sensitive Wells Fargo Customer Information Stolen

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Four laptop computers containing sensitive information about Wells Fargo customers were stolen last month from an Atlanta company that prints loan statements, a bank spokesman said.

The computers contained names, addresses and Social Security numbers of an undisclosed number of customers who have mortgages and student loans with the bank. No passwords or personal-identification numbers were on the computers, said Kevin Waetke, a spokesman for Wells Fargo & Co.

So far, the bank ``has no indication that information has been improperly used, other than it was stored on the computers stolen,'' Waetke said. ``We apologize for any anxiety this has caused our customers.''

Greg Knoploh, a homeowner in Johnston, Iowa, was caught off guard when he learned that details of his mortgage with Wells Fargo were on computers taken in that break-in.

Knoploh said Tuesday that he had followed Wells Fargo's instructions to place electronic monitors on his credit information. The service would detect any identification theft.

The data on the Atlanta computers contained names of customers of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage of West Des Moines and Wells Fargo Education Financial Services of San Francisco.

It's the third time in a year that Wells Fargo has dealt with stolen computers.

In February, a laptop computer containing personal data of thousands of Wells Fargo customers was stolen when a pair of bank employees traveling in the Midwest stopped at a filling station and left the keys in the ignition of their rental car.

Last November, a laptop computer was stolen from a Wells Fargo consultant in Concord, Calif., prompting the bank to urge customers to take immediate steps to avoid identity theft.

The bank is unaware of any misuse in either of the two previous thefts.

``When you put money in a bank, you trust that your information remains private,'' said Mary Meyer, of River Falls, who received a letter Friday notifying her of the burglary. ``This is a big violation of that trust.''

The bank declined to say how many people might be affected by the theft.

Wells Fargo is the nation's largest home lender with 4.9 million mortgage customers. The bank's education-finance division serves about 890,000 customers.

``Customers will not be liable for any financial losses related to this incident,'' Waetke said.