Hundreds of Laptops Missing From IRS

Washington (AP) -- Hundreds of IRS laptops with sensitive information have been misplaced or stolen over a three-and-a-half year period.

And IRS Inspector General J. Russell George says over 2500 taxpayer identities and other data are at risk. He says they have "no idea" whose data has been compromised.

George says between January 2003 and June 2006, 490 laptops or other data system equipment disappeared. And in 76 percent of the cases there was no prompt report, meaning the loss of valuable time in taking corrective action.

He says in many cases the devices were left at bus stations, train stations or airports or in unlocked luggage. He calls the carelessness "inexcusable."

The IG says data on the equipment was not properly encrypted or otherwise protected.

Copyright 2007 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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