It may be a good idea to get a new set of credit reports in the near future.
Taken from: http://w
Thousands Affected By Identity Theft Ring
Feb 22, 2005, 06:53 AM CST
ATLANTA, Ga. - Tens of thousands of consumers have had their identities
stolen and you could be one of them.
Information such as social security number, birth dates, drivers license
numbers and credit details all could have been compromised because of an
organized identity theft ring.
An Atlanta-based database firm called Choicepoint maintains information on
virtually every U.S. citzen because it provides background checks and
several other services.
The information was compromised when 50 fake companies were set up to gain
access to personal information.
Choicepoint says that 145,000 consumers are being sent letters of warning
that their identity may have been compromised, including 1635 in Missouri
and 1,613 in Kansas.
Choicepoint spokesman James Less said, "The information these people had
access to was by and large public information. but on occasion that included
social security numbers."
The final tally of victims aren't in so the numbers could grow. You can log
onto the database website at Choicepoint to find out more
The firm says it is intensifying its security all the way around. And it's
providing free credit reports and counseling for vicitms.
And last week:
Taken from: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6969
ChoicePoint warns more than 30,000 they may be at risk
By Bob Sullivan
Updated: 6:38 p.m. ET Feb. 14, 2005
Criminals posing as legitimate businesses have accessed critical personal
data stored by ChoicePoint Inc., a firm that maintains databases of
background information on virtually every U.S. citizen, MSNBC.com has
The incident involves a wide swath of consumer data, including names,
addresses, Social Security numbers, credit reports and other information.
ChoicePoint aggregates and sells such personal information to government
agencies and private companies.
Last week, the company notified between 30,000 and 35,000 consumers in
California that their personal data may have been accessed by "unauthorized
third parties," according to ChoicePoint spokesman James Lee.
California law requires firms to disclose such incidents to the state's
consumers when they are discovered. It is the only state with such a
requirement but such data thefts are rarely limited to a single geographic
Lee said law enforcement officials have so far advised the firm that only
Californians need to be notified.
"The only incident that has been confirmed is in California," he said.
ChoicePoint maintains a dossier on virtually every American consumer,
according to Daniel J. Solove, George Washington University professor and
author of "The Digital Person."
The Atlanta-based company says it has 10 billion records on individuals and
businesses, and sells data to 40 percent of the nation's top 1,000
companies. It also has contracts with 35 government agencies, including
several law enforcement agencies.
Victims told months after the fact
The incident was discovered in October, when ChoicePoint was contacted by a
law enforcement agency investigating an identity theft crime. In that
incident, suspects had posed as a ChoicePoint client to gain access to the
firm's rich consumer databases.
Subsequent research by ChoicePoint revealed that about 50 fake companies had
been set up and then registered with ChoicePoint to access consumer data.
California consumers who received warning letters from the firm last week
were "in some way connected to searches" conducted by those fake accounts,
The firm was only given clearance by law enforcement officials to disclose
the incident two weeks ago, Lee said
While the criminals had access to ChoicePoint data, it's not clear what, if
any, information was stolen, said Chuck Jones, another ChoicePoint
spokesman. The letters were sent as a precaution, he said.
The FBI, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office, and the U.S. Postal
Inspector's Office are investigating, he said.
Consumer frustrated by notification
The letter urges consumers to check their credit reports for suspicious
"We believe that several individuals, posing as legitimate business
customers, recently committed fraud by claiming to have a lawful purpose for
accessing information about individuals," it reads. "You should continue to
check your credit reports frequently for the next year."
The two-page letter offers details on how to spot fraud, but no additional
information about the incident, or what information may have actually been
"ChoicePoint has apologized for any inconvenience this incident may cause,"
said ChoicePoint spokesman Chuck Jones. "But ChoicePoint has no way of
knowing whether anyone's personal information actually has been accessed,"
or used to commit identity theft, he added.
California consumer Elizabeth Rosen, who received the ChoicePoint letter
Friday, was upset that the company only provided sketchy details about the
incident to her.
"They gave a toll free number to call, but when I called, the person just
read from a script ... they said disclosing too many details may hurt an
ongoing investigation," Rosen said. "I'm not happy about this. I didn't even
know who ChoicePoint was."
That reaction is common, according to Solove.
"Even though you might not have heard of ChoicePoint, they've heard of you.
They are playing a role in your people's lives whether they know it or not,"
Privacy consultant Larry Ponemon, who operates the Ponemon Institute, said
he was surprised criminals were able to pose as ChoicePoint clients.
"What really concerns me is when low-tech methods are used to gain access,
than you really have problems," said. "Obviously this is very surprising,
given that they are in the data business."
Jones said ChoicePoint had adjusted its procedures to "help protect against
a repeat" of the incident.