In an amazing display of incompetence, Chase Card Services has dumped tapes containing millions of customers' details in a landfill site.

The company will now have to tell 2.6 million current and former credit card customers of Circuit City that tapes containing their details were tossed out when they were mistaken for rubbish. Chase is apparently working with both local and national authorities to find out what happened but thinks they were in a locked box which was crushed and dumped in the landfill hole.

There is no evidence that the tapes or their contents have been accessed or misused, the company said. And CEO Rich Srednicki issued a statement promising that: "The privacy of our customers' personal information is of utmost importance to us, and we take the responsibility to safeguard this information very seriously." Interpretations for what "very seriously" means are open to discussion.

It's not the first time companies and banks have been careless with their customers' data. There have been several other recent instances of lost data tapes and inadequate data care:

  • Iron Mountain, demonstrating vulnerability to data loss a second time, lost tapes in April 2006, relating to 17,000 Long Island Railroad employees and other customers.
  • CitiGroup lost data on 3.9 million customers in June 2005, when tapes being delivered by UPS went missing.
  • A group of US banks had 676,000 customer records stolen in May 2005.
  • Iron Mountain lost a box of backup tapes containing 600,000 current and former Time Warner employees’ personal data in May 2005.
  • Canadian company Simmons Mattress switched from Iron Mountain to EVault because, when Simmons was hit with a region-wide power blackout in August, 2003, Iron Mountain, its disaster recovery supplier, Iron Mountain, was hit by the same blackout.