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Firm loses laptop computer with personal information on 800,000 job applicants

Gap Inc., the largest U.S. clothing retailer, said a laptop computer containing the personal information of 800,000 job applicants was stolen from the offices of a third-party vendor.

The laptop contained information, including Social Security numbers, on people who applied for store positions online or by phone at one of Gap's brands between July 2006 and June 2007. The data was not encrypted, contrary to the vendor agreement, Gap said Friday in a statement.

Laptops from other companies or government agencies containing personnel information have been stolen or misplaced. in August, a laptop with financial data for as many as 106,000 Connecticut taxpayers was stolen from a state employee. Starbucks Corp. said last November that laptops with information for 60,000 workers were missing.

"We've been working as quickly as possible to determine what happened, determining who was impacted and then identifying those individuals that were impacted," Gap spokeswoman Cynthia Lin said in an interview.

Gap became aware of the stolen information Sept. 19 and began Thursday notifying the affected applicants for its Old Navy, Banana Republic, Gap and Outlet stores, Lin said. She declined to name the vendor.

The retailer said it has no reason to believe the data was the target of the theft or that the personal information has been misused. Gap is offering the applicants a year of free credit-monitoring services with fraud-resolution assistance and a 24-hour helpline.