- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Two D.C. lawyers yesterday filed a class-action lawsuit for 13,000 city workers and retirees whose personal data was compromised in the theft of a laptop from a government contract worker this month.

Gregory Lattimer and Ted Williams filed the lawsuit in D.C. Superior Court against ING Annuity and Life Insurance Co., seeking at least $10,000 in damages and lifetime identity-theft monitoring for each of the 13,000 city workers and retirees.

ING manages two retirement plans for D.C. government employees. The company notified city officials June 16 that an employee’s laptop containing workers’ personal data — such as Social Security numbers — had been stolen June 12.

Company officials noted the potential for identity theft because of the laptop’s lack of encryption or password protection.

Mr. Lattimer yesterday said ING’s offer of identity-theft monitoring for one year is not good enough.

“You don’t take away my identity and tell me how you’re going to help me get it back,” he said. “I’m going to get it back through any means necessary. One year and one day from now, if someone decides to take my identity, ING cannot say that it is not responsible.”

ING officials yesterday said they had not seen the lawsuit and could not comment on it.

However, company officials said they will make credit monitoring and fraud expense coverage available to all victims for as long as it is needed.

“We are committed to making this service available for as long as necessary to protect the participants,” ING spokeswoman Caroline Campbell said. “ING has communicated directly with all affected individuals and is working with them to help put in place the protections being offered by ING at its expense.”

Last week, ING mailed letters to the 13,000 workers, warning them about identity theft and encouraging them to enroll in credit monitoring and identity-fraud protection through Equifax.

Mr. Lattimer said three of the seven plaintiffs who have joined the lawsuit are Metropolitan Police Department officers.

At a press conference yesterday, Sgt. Tony Giles said he decided to participate in the lawsuit to protect his retirement options.

“I’m getting closer to retirement, and ING was supposed to help with that,” said Sgt. Giles, 40, who has been on the force 16 years. “That’s what ING was for, and now, they are jeopardizing that.”

Sgt. Regina Randolph, 56, has been on the force 32 years. She said she is past the age of retirement but is worried that, because of identity theft, her money is at risk.

“I’m appalled and discouraged and a little terrified that my personal information, my Social Security number, my telephone number and all that kind of information is out there and I don’t know where it is and I don’t know who has it,” she said.

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