Lost Laptops with Employee Data Has Starbucks Wired

Nov. 7, 2006
Company convinced info not being misused, but will still notify workers

SEATTLE_Starbucks Corp. said Friday it had lost track of four laptop computers, two of which had private information on about 60,000 current and former U.S. employees and fewer than 80 Canadian workers and contractors.

The data, which includes names, addresses and Social Security numbers, is about three years old, dating prior to December 2003, said Valerie O'Neil, a spokeswoman for the Seattle-based coffee retailer.

The company has not received any reports that anyone's personal information has been compromised.

"We have no reason to believe these laptops are in the hands of someone who wants to misuse them," O'Neil said. "We just want to make every effort to protect our partners."

O'Neil said Starbucks was in the process of notifying those affected, including an estimated 8 percent of its current work force, which numbers about 135,000 worldwide.

Starbucks has been looking for the laptops since early September after discovering they were missing from a closet in the corporate support center at its south Seattle headquarters, O'Neil said.

The company waited several weeks to disclose it had lost the laptops, O'Neil said, because "we wanted to make sure we were thorough before we notified people."

In a letter to those potentially affected, Starbucks urged people to monitor their financial accounts for suspicious activity and said it was offering free credit protection services to help them do that.

"Please know that we are exploring all avenues to locate these laptops, including reaching out to law enforcement agencies," the letter stated.

O'Neil said Starbucks was reinforcing its corporate policies and updating procedures on protecting the personal information of its employees to prevent such data loss from happening again.

Asked if there were any secret recipes on the missing computers, O'Neil chuckled and said, "I don't know of any."