Sunday, June 04, 2006 credit-card numbers stolen

Names and credit-card numbers of 243,000 customers were on a laptop stolen from an Ernst & Young employee.

NEW YORK ( - The names and credit-card numbers of 243,000 customers were on a laptop computer stolen from an employee of accounting firm Ernst & Young, according to sources familiar with the matter., which is owned by Expedia (Research) and Ernst & Young, its auditor, began notifying customers that their information was stolen last week.

The theft occurred in February, according to news reports, but Ernst & Young only recently was able to determine what was on the computer's hard drive.

A spokesman from Ernst & Young declined to confirm the exact date of the theft.

"The security and confidentiality of our client information is of critical importance to Ernst & Young and we regret any inconvenience or concern this incident may have caused and their customers," Ernst & Young said in a statement.

Ernst & Young added that the computer was password-protected there was no indication the information had been accessed or misused.

Other personal items were stolen as well, according to the accounting firm.

"The crime appears to be a random theft, and we have no indication that the thief was specifically targeting the laptop or any information contained on it."