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WASHINGTON — Health insurer Aetna has started sending letters to 35,253 Defense Department employees, notifying them that their personal data may be compromised after a laptop computer was stolen April 14.

Nonappropriated Fund, or NAF, employees are being told to place an initial fraud alert on their credit file and are being offered the free use of credit monitoring services for this purpose, to quickly identify any potential misuse of their information.

Aetna spokeswoman Cynthia Michener said Thursday there is no evidence that any of the information has been misused to date, and that no personal banking information or health claim data was on the laptop.

The laptop was stolen from an employee’s personal car in a public parking lot. While Aetna has strict safeguards on such matters, “the employee did not follow all company policies in this instance,” Michener said. Michener refused to say whether any disciplinary action would be taken, saying it was a “personnel matter.”

A few thousand other Aetna members also lost data, but they do not fall under DOD, Michener said.

The company is sending three letters: one for those whose information included their social security number, one for those whose information included health information, and one for those whose information contained both.

In the letters, Aetna explains that “the laptop contained electronic files, containing varying amounts of personal and/or medical information” for employees “enrolled in the medical and dental benefit plans administered by Aetna.”

NAF falls under Department of Defense and its employees are paid from funds generated by those commercial activities.

According to the Department of Defense, there are almost 130,000 NAF employees worldwide under six organizations: The Department of the Army, the Department of the Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps, Navy Installations Command, the Navy Exchange Service Command (NEXCOM) and the Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES).

Many NAF employees work for the Morale, Welfare and Recreation services.

“The bulk of the [lost] data was on Army, Air Force, or AAFES NAF employees or retirees,” DOD spokeswoman Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke told Stars and Stripes. “However, some employees and retirees of the three Navy NAF employers (Marine Corps, NEXCOM and Navy Installations Command) are affected, as well as some dependents of employees and retirees from all the NAF employers.”

Krenke could not give a more specific breakdown on whose information might have been compromised.

Neither Aetna nor the DOD could say how many of the affected employees live overseas. DOD spokeswoman Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke could only say that the majority of NAF employees work in the United States.

A fraud alert tells creditors to contact the customer before any new accounts are opened, or there are changes requested for existing accounts.

The three services Aetna recommends are:

Equifax: 877-478-7625; www.equifax.com; P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241

Experian: 888-397-3742; www.experian.com, P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013

TransUnion: 800-680-7289; www.transunion.com; Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790

Michener said that customers should only contact one service, and the others will be notified.

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