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Choicepoint: "Oops!" Sold info to ID theft ring

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Choicepoint: "Oops!" Sold info to ID theft ring

Old 02-17-05, 02:02 PM
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Choicepoint: "Oops!" Sold info to ID theft ring

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories...MPLATE=DEFAULT

ChoicePoint Warns of Possible ID Theft

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- About 145,000 people nationwide are being notified that their personal information may have been stolen by thieves who fraudulently signed up with a company that collects consumer data.

ChoicePoint Inc. announced Wednesday that it was sending warning letters to 110,000 possible victims beyond the 35,000 in California, where a unique state law requires such disclosure.

The Alpharetta, Ga.-based company said it decided to expand its warnings after learning from Los Angeles County sheriff's investigators that the fraud ring appeared to be a national operation.

"We have no problem with notification," ChoicePoint spokesman James Lee said. "We do very strongly believe there needs to be a broader public discussion."

The ring, which operated for more than a year before it was detected, has defrauded at least 750 people, according to sheriff's detective Duane Decker.

One suspect, Olatunji Oluwatosin, was arrested in October and investigators believe at least several other people were involved. Oluwatosin, a 41-year-old Nigerian national, was due in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Thursday.

The thieves apparently used previously stolen identities to create what appeared to be legitimate businesses seeking ChoicePoint accounts, the company said. They opened about 50 accounts and received volumes of data on consumers, including names and addresses, important identification numbers and job histories.

The warning letter advises recipients to check their credit reports.


The ChoicePoint attack could galvanize support for a federal law protecting consumers from corporate security breaches. New Hampshire, New York and Texas are considering similar bills, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., reintroduced legislation last month for a national version of the California law.

ChoicePoint, formerly a division of the credit agency Equifax but a separate company since 1997, has databases with approximately 19 billion public records, spokesman Chuck Jones said recently.

The company compiles and sells personal information on U.S. residents, such as motor vehicle and credit records, car and boat registrations, liens and deed transfers and military records.


Anyone get hit by this?

Not really related but I had to cancel a credit card earlier this month because of some unauthorized charges at brick and mortor stores in Arizona and Kansas. I think I'm going to sign up for one of those services to get a credit report on a regular basis eventually.
Old 02-17-05, 02:13 PM
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I was just talking to a friend who uses ChoicePoint. Since each inquiry costs about $17 we were trying to figure out how they did all those inquiries.

You have to have some info to input in order to bring up records so did they just choose names or SSNs at random?

Did they pay for them (I doubt it) or did they run them quickly, rack up big bills, and then skip out on them?
Old 02-17-05, 02:47 PM
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Artlicle didn't say, but I would assume that they probably used stolen credit cards for the charges.

I don't know how choicepoint works, but couldn't they do a search on things like zip codes, streets or birthdates? It sounds like they were just fishing for info to use to open more credit cards/accounts in other peoples' names.
Old 02-17-05, 02:54 PM
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My friend said you actually have to know something about the person, such as their name (and then they'd get a list of matches to choose from) or SSN or something like that. Maybe phone number, maybe specific address, he didn't mention those. I don't know if it allows searching on birthdate. That's kind of general.
Old 02-17-05, 03:05 PM
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There's a report out now that places the number closer to 400,000 people

http://www.wgst.com/cc-common/local_...315&feed=local
Identity Theft Bigger Than First Thought

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (AP) _ Authorities say as many as 400-thousand consumers may be affected by hackers who penetrated the database of ChoicePoint Incorporated and stole sensitive financial information. The number is higher than what the Alpharetta-based company first reported when it acknowledged Tuesday that several hackers broke into its computer database and stole data from as many as 35-thousand Californians. But the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department says that credit records around the country -- not just the 35-thousand in California as ChoicePoint said -- were accessed. Sheriff's Lieutenant Paul Denny says investigators in California know of about 765 instances of financial charges being made to consumer accounts because the ring accessed ChoicePoint's records. Executives at ChoicePoint -- which maintains one of the largest databases of personal information in the country -- acknowledge that the number of potential victims is much higher than first thought. But they also suggested the actual number is lower than what law enforcers are estimating.
Old 02-17-05, 03:09 PM
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Hmm. Well, I only know what's in the article I quoted, but you can get a lot of names, addresses and phone numbers from the phone book. Or one of those CD Rom databases that I imagine are somewhere on the net. Start pumping that into Choicepoint and it sounds like they got the additional info they needed to open up CC accounts in those people's names, and change mailing addreses.
Old 02-17-05, 03:40 PM
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I just love Choicepoint. My insurance company started using them for credit information.

I only have once credit card, one check card, one department store card (opened last summer) and home mortgage.

Approximately 12 years ago, my wife and I did 12 months free financeing at local furniture. That store used Beneficial Credit for the free financing. I made 12 payments and paided the loan in full. Fast foward to last month, I receive a insurance renewal that stated that I did not qualify for best rate because of credit history. It then listed the top four reasons has

1. Too many open credit accounts.
2. Too many accounts opened in past 12 months.
3. Personal finance credit companies are not the best method to finance puchases. Any accounts (open or closed) at any point in history are included. In the future, look for better alternatives.
4. No information on oil company accounts on file.

I go to my agent pissed about this renewal. He syays that many people are pissed about the information. But they are legally required to disclose this information now. Also, they must list the top four reasons for not qaulifying for the best rate. So, I get the second best rate and it only cost me an additional 21% for insurance.

So, I have opened one account in twelve months and that is one too many. I need information from an oil compnay but I have too many account and have already opened too many in the last tweleve months. Over 12 years ago, I qualified for financing and paided my account on full and on time. But I used a bad type of company and can never change so I am screwed.

Did I say love Choicepoint!
Old 02-17-05, 03:58 PM
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I have been considering a credit monitoring service as well.
Old 02-17-05, 05:14 PM
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It seems to me Choicepoint is more than just a little liable here. They facilitated this identity theft ring for over a year then tried to say it was "hackers". Now they send a letter to all these people, saying "Dude, your identity might have been stolen. You really should do something about it." and they're off the hook. Where are all the ambulance chasers when you need them?
Old 02-18-05, 12:35 AM
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DEAR CHOICEPOINT,

I AM A DIRECTOR IN THE FOREIGN AFFAIRS DEPARTMENT OF THE NIGERIAN UNITED TRUST SOCIETY (NUTS). I GOT YOUR EMAIL DURING A PERSONAL RESEARCH ON THE INTERNET AND WISH TO USE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO NOTIFY YOU OF THE EXISTENCE OF A CERTAIN AMOUNT WE WISH TO TRANSFER OVERSEAS FOR THE PURPOSE OF INVESTMENTS AND IMPORTATION OF GOODS FROM YOUR COUNTRY.

OUR BELOVED QUEEN MUTU NANA RECENTLY FELL ILL AND DIED OF UNFORTUNATE SUDDENNESS. DUE TO INCREASING POLITICAL TURMOIL FROM THE REBEL ALLIANCE ALL BANK ACCOUNTS WITHIN THE NATION HAVE BEEN FROZEN. DUE TO COMPLICATED LOCAL FINANCE LAW, ONLY A FOREIGN CITIZEN MAY ACCESS THESE ACCOUNTS. THAT IS WHY I CONTACTED YOU SO THAT WE CAN DO THE PROJECT TOGETHER FOR OUR MUTUAL BENEFIT. WE HAVE CONCLUDED EVERY NECESSARY ARRANGEMENT TO TRANSFER THIS AMOUNT TO A FOREIGN ACCOUNT AS THE FINAL PHASE PAYMENT FOR THE SAID CONTRACT. WHAT WE NEED IS YOUR BANK ACCOUNT INTO WHICH WE CAN DEPOSIT THE MONEY AND AFTER WE SHALL COME OVER THERE TO SHARE THE MONEY WITH YOU.

IF YOU ARE INTERESTED, CONTACT ME BY EMAIL THROUGH [email protected] INDICATING YOUR FULL NAMES OR COMPANY NAME AND ADDRESS. YOUR DIRECT TELEPHONE AND FAX NUMBERS. THE NAME AND ADDRESS OF THE BANK YOU WILL LIKE US TO DEPOSIT THE MONEY, THE TELEPHONE AND FAX NUMBERS OF THE BANK, YOUR ACCOUNT NUMBER ETC. EVERYTHING HAS BEEN ARRANGED AND I WILL SEND MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE BUSINESS TRANSACTION TO YOU AS SOON AS I HEAR FROM YOU. FOR OBVIOUS REASONS, PLEASE KEEP THE PROPOSAL TOP SECRET AND HIGHLY CONFIDENTIAL.

KIND REGARDS,
GEORGE MATARITUTU
Old 02-18-05, 04:00 AM
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We gotta email this.
Old 02-18-05, 04:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Quatermass
It seems to me Choicepoint is more than just a little liable here. They facilitated this identity theft ring for over a year then tried to say it was "hackers". Now they send a letter to all these people, saying "Dude, your identity might have been stolen. You really should do something about it." and they're off the hook. Where are all the ambulance chasers when you need them?
I think a lawsuit by the Federal Government, would be nice.

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