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Conn. fears data breach affected more customers

A security breach at the Bank of New York Mellon Corp. may have compromised the information of customers at several other banks, Connecticut’s attorney general said yesterday.

A preliminary investigation indicated that computer tapes that disappeared in February included data from the Bank of New York Mellon and People’s United Bank of Bridgeport. It also may have included the data of customers of Webster Bank, and Wachovia, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said.

People’s has acknowledged sharing its customers’ information with the New York bank. It was unclear why the Bank of New York Mellon had information on the other two banks’ customers.

“How and why they had that information is part of our investigation,” Blumenthal said.

The bank told the state that a box with backup bank tapes were lost from a truck that transports and stores tapes in its storage facility, Blumenthal said. The tapes contained millions of Social Security numbers, names and addresses and possibly bank account numbers and balances, he said.

Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell directed the state’s Consumer Protection commissioner yesterday to subpoena Bank of New York Mellon, and People’s United Bank seeking details about the extent of the data breach, copies of any law enforcement or security reports filed following the loss and the names and addresses of affected Connecticut customers.

Connecticut state law requires banks to immediately notify customers when such information is lost. Rell said the Bank of New York Mellon did not quickly notify People’s United Bank of Bridgeport of the security breach. People’s is the parent company of Flagship Bank & Trust of Worcester.

“The disastrous effects of identity theft are virtually instantaneous in today’s computerized world, and the lag time between the theft and the notification only aggravates what is an already outrageous situation,” Rell said.

Issuing a subpoena is the first step in determining whether laws may have been broken, Consumer Protection Commissioner Jerry Farrell Jr. said.

Ron Sommer, a spokesman for the Bank of New York Mellon Corp. in Pittsburgh, said the bank could not comment on the subpoena because it has not received one.

On Wednesday, he said bank officials are cooperating with Blumenthal’s investigation. The bank has been notifying customers and is offering those affected one year of free credit monitoring, Sommer said.

The bank also has posted information on its Web site and has established a toll-free number to respond to questions. So far, the bank has seen no indication that data was misused, he said.

Brent DiGiorgio, a spokesman for People’s United Bank, said Wednesday that People’s Bank gave information about its customers to the Bank of New York in 2007 when it converted from a depositor-owned bank to a publicly owned stock company.