The agency responsible for security at US airports cannot find an external hard drive packed with the personal records of about 100,000 current and former employees.
Authorities at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) noticed the drive was missing last week, but are not certain where it is. "It is unclear at this stage whether the device is still within headquarters or was stolen," the agency said.
The TSA is a four-year-old division within the Department of Homeland Security.
Officials have asked the FBI and the US Secret Service to investigate in the belief that the drive has bee n stolen from what is called a "controlled area" at TSA headquarters in Washington.
Records of workers employed by the TSA from January 2002 until August 2005 were on the drive. The data included names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, payroll information, bank account numbers, and routing information for direct deposit of paychecks.
This is not the first employee data incident at TSA. Last September, it told about 1,200 former workers that a contractor may have mailed their Social Security numbers and birthdates to wrong addresses.