Coca-Cola: Stolen laptops had personal information of 74,000

Coca-Cola Co. said on Friday that personal information on as many as 74,000 employees, contractors and suppliers were on laptops that it said were temporarily stolen from its Atlanta headquarters.

The beverage giant told its U.S. and Canadian employees the data on the laptops, which wasn't encrypted, included names, Social Security numbers and addresses, as well as details like financial compensation and ethnicity.

Coke said the laptops were later retrieved and it has "no indication" the personal information had been misused. It didn't say how it learned of the theft or how the computers were recovered.

The company is sending letters to about 18,000 individuals whose names and Social Security numbers were found on the laptops. It also is notifying another 56,000 individuals who had other personal information, primarily driver's license numbers, stored on the laptops.

Coke spokeswoman Ann Moore said the laptops were stolen by a former employee who had been assigned to maintain or dispose of equipment. She didn't identify the person or say whether that person was an employee when the laptops were transferred.

Coke said company policy requires laptops to be encrypted, but the stolen computers hadn't yet been encrypted. It didn't explain the lapse in a memo sent Friday to employees, which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

The company said in a memo that it learned Dec. 10 that personal information was stored on the laptops after recovering them.

The company said it waited to inform employees until Friday because it had to go through the contents of the recovered laptops.

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