Almost a year has passed since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded and spewed three months of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. But less than six months after the beleaguered oil giant managed to cap that well, it is contending with a new spill of a different sort: the loss of personal information on thousands of Gulf Coast residents who had filed claims for compensation stemming from the leak.
The breach stems from the loss of a laptop by a BP employee. According to a report from The AP, the computer, which is password protected but not encrypted, contained the names, social security numbers, phone numbers, and addresses of some 13,000 claimants.
BP spokesperson, Curtis Thomas, said the oil company sent out letters notifying those affected and reported the incident to law enforcement on Monday. BP contends that none of the personal information has been misused, but nonetheless is offering to pay for any necessary credit monitoring services to the victims of the breach.
“We’re committed to the people of the Gulf Coast states affected by the Deepwater Horizon accident and spill, and we deeply regret that this occurred,” said Thomas.
The employee in question lost the laptop on March 1 during business travel, nearly a month ago, when asked why so much time elapsed before reporting the incident, Thomas claimed his company was doing “due diligence and investigating” the incident, according to AP.
The breach only affects claimants who filed claims directly to BP before the Gulf Coast Claims Facility took over the compensation operation in August of last year.
This incident represents just on example in growing trend of companies accidentally exposing the personal financial information of their customers.