Dear [Blank]: You've Been Breached

Dear Valued Customer,

Over these past several years we at [Company Name] have enjoyed providing [service description] to you. As you might have seen on [local, regional, prime time news program] or read in [local, regional, national ... well, everywhere], recently our private database was compromised, and your personal information (including your name, Social Security number, account number, date of birth, address, employment information, mother's maiden name, favorite Stooge) was exposed.

Since the data breach was discovered on [fudged date -- don't let on that it happened eons ago], we have been working around the clock with [heavy-duty security company] and [government entity] as well as [P.R. company specializing in corporate image damage control] to ensure [in a non-legally binding way, of course] that the information you provide to us [at our marketing department's insistence] will never again fall into unscrupulous hands [particularly those of our competitors].

Rest easy, we've got you covered (for now)
In the meantime, we [grudgingly and at some expense to our third-quarter revenue forecast] have partnered with [credit bureau] to provide to you a one-year subscription to [identity guard product]. This service will alert you of any changes to your credit profile over the next 365 days [after which, you're on your own]. We also encourage you to research ways to fill your own personal data security gaps. Simply Google "identity theft," and you should find some helpful links.

A word about your records
Data sharing in our industry is not uncommon. As a service to our valuable customers like you [as well as a lucrative revenue stream for us], we have long offered your financial information -- including full access to your credit file[!] -- to service providers that have a marketing relationship with us. (An aside: We hope you have enjoyed the product mailings and phone calls you've received from them.)

We are sure you understand that security breaches are simply a part of doing business these days.

Frankly, this violation pales next to the mess they experienced over at the Department of Veterans Affairs. In fact, compared with the butterfingers at Choicepoint (NYSE: CPS  ) (144,000 files exposed), LexisNexis (owned by Reed Elsevier Group (NYSE: ENL  ) ) (300,000), and Time Warner (NYSE: TWX  ) (600,000), we run a pretty tight ship. Our hackers didn't even get to the good stuff -- our high-income, credit-rich clients. [Whew!]

Customers first [data security second]
It is at times like these that we hark back to our roots at [Company Name]. Our motto and mission means more now than it ever has.

Together, everyone: "Your business is all of our business."

As always, we thank you for choosing [Company Name] for all of your [service] needs, and we look forward to working closely with you in the future [so long as your credit remains in good standing].

Fond regards,

[Company Name]

It's not difficult to create a Fort Knox around your credit file. For more money tips, including how to protect your personal information, try Motley Fool Green Light. It's free for 30 days.

This article was originally published on June 15, 2006. Dayana Yochim does not own shares of the companies mentioned in this article. Time Warner is a Stock Advisor pick. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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