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USB theft a warning for others

The theft of a memory stick containing sensitive client information could have happened to any client-facing financial adviser, says Fidelity Life chief executive Milton Jennings.

Friday, November 1st 2013, 11:50AM

by Susan Edmunds

A USB stick containing information about 1200 people, including their bank account and investment details, was stolen from an employee’s car while he was in a meeting in Lower Hutt.

Jennings said the FMA, Privacy Commissioner, police and clients had to be told.

“It’s a very unusual situation to find us in because we don’t give usually give advice.”

He said the staff member was an AFA who had come across to Fidelity as part of its purchase of Tower. “He very seldom takes information out of the office but the one time he did, it was stolen.”

Jenning said the clients involved were with Fisher Funds, not Fidelity Life.

“It should never have happened, but he’s our employee and we take responsibility. Any time advisers have a memory stick or computer in their car, there is a risk. We have had to take it very seriously and spent a lot of time and cost to identify what information may have been leaked.”

Jennings said it was likely an opportunistic thief who was more interested in stealing a laptop than the client information.

Advisers should make sure that they always had back-ups of the information on their computers, he said, so that they would know what had been stolen. “And they need to realise they’ve got to protect private information.”

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