BP Laptop With Gulf Spill Claimant Information Goes Missing

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March 30, 2011

BP PLC (BP) said Tuesday that a company laptop containing the personal information of thousands of people who filed claims with the oil giant related to the Deepwater Horizon disaster has been missing for about a month.

The laptop, which belonged to a BP employee, was lost on a business-related trip in early March, the company said. This week, BP sent out letters to 13,000 people who had filed claims. A spreadsheet used to track the claims process contained names, addresses, phone numbers, dates of birth and Social Security numbers of claimants, according to the company. The company has offered free credit monitoring services to people it believes were affected.

(This story and related background material will be available on The Wall Street Journal website, WSJ.com.)

“There is no evidence that the laptop or data was targeted or that anyone’s personal data has in fact been compromised or accessed in any way,” a BP spokesman said in a statement, adding that the computer was password-protected. The company immediately contacted local law enforcement authorities, but the spokesman would not elaborate or say where BP believes the laptop was lost.

BP paid about $400 million in claims to individuals and businesses before it transferred the handling of claims to the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, administered by lawyer Kenneth Feinberg. The company says it has paid $5.2 billion in claims since the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig sank last April.

-By Daniel Gilbert, The Wall Street Journal

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