February 1, 2008 in Business

D.A. Davidson data stolen

Associated Press The Spokesman-Review
 

GREAT FALLS, Mont. – A hacker broke into a D.A. Davidson database and obtained account information and Social Security numbers of thousands of clients, a spokeswoman for the financial services company said Tuesday.

The computer hacker accessed information on 226,000 current and former clients earlier this month but didn’t get access to the accounts, spokeswoman Jacquie Burchard said.

But company officials are worried that the hacker could use the names and Social Security numbers to commit fraud or identity theft.

Burchard said the company doesn’t know who breached the system and described the hacker as “very, very sophisticated.”

The Great Falls, Mont.-based company has sent a letter to current and former clients detailing what steps they should take to safeguard their identities. It also will offer a one-year enrollment to a credit monitoring service at the company’s expense for clients whose information was accessed.

“All of us at D.A. Davidson are acutely aware of the uncertainty, stress and inconvenience associated with the potential compromise of personal information,” company President and CEO Bill Johnstone said in a news release.

“We are fully committed to helping our clients deal with this unfortunate event as quickly as possible and are adopting measures to further enhance our network security.”

Burchard said authorities asked the company to keep the news confidential during the early stages of the investigation.

U.S. Attorney Bill Mercer said his office was aware of the security breach.

“The United States has initiated an investigation into this matter,” he said. “Computer hacking is a serious offense.”

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