The recent theft of two laptops containing information on 40,000 current and former Chicago Public School employees is another reminder that benefit plan sponsors should be asking their service providers how safe is their data. Just how vulnerable is employee payroll and benefit data? Well, if it could happen to Scotland Yard, one the world’s preeminent law enforcement agencies, from whom someone stole 3 laptops with payroll and pension data on 15,000 Met police officers, it could also happen to your retirement plan’s data.

And how did the Chicago Public School caper happen? The laptops were taken from an empty conference roome where two accountants had used them to review the payment history to the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund.

It’s almost like someone didn’t want the Pension Fund to feel slighted. Last November, personal information including names, addresses, and Social Security numbers for 1,740 former employees was revealed in a staff mailing about health insurance programs. Then, like now, the Chicago Board of Education is offering a year of credit protection for those at risk. Phew, now the 41,740 current and former employees can feel safe!