Sacramento, Calif. (March 22, 2004) -- More than 50,000 H&R Block customers were notified by the company that their data may have been compromised by the theft of a network server.

"It was going in for repair, but it was stolen," company spokeswoman Denise Sposato said of the server, which she noted contained customer names from 1998 to 2002.

The customers affected received a letter last week from the tax prep firm.

The only viewable data was on seven fields -- first name, middle initial, last name, street address, city, state, and zip code, according to Sposato. "Any information beyond that was compressed, and since there was no proprietary software on there, the chances of trying to open it up are almost nil," she said. "We notified the clients by letter to let them know that it happened."

"We tried to minimize their concern but we also let them know that if they wanted a greater comfort level they could report it to one of three credit reporting agencies to put them on fraud alert. This way, if anyone were ever able to get at and use the compressed information, they would be notified," Sposato said.

-- Roger Russell

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