More ID thefts reported as Senate investigates

More ID thefts reported as Senate investigates

One day before a scheduled appearance before a Senate committee to discuss threats to privacy, Lexisnexis Group of Dayton, Ohio, reported that personal information belonging to 280,000 people apparently has been stolen from its databases.

Those thefts are in addition to data on 30,000 individuals that the company reported stolen last month.

"We are taking action to notify individuals where we found some indication that they might have some risk of identity theft or fraud, even if that risk did not appear significant," said Kurt P. Sanford, CEO of the company's corporate and federal markets.

Sanford, along with Douglas C. Curling, president and chief operating officer of ChoicePoint Inc. of Alpharetta, Ga., is among witnesses scheduled to testify tomorrow before the Senate Judiciary Committee. ChoicePoint announced earlier this year that it has sold data on as many as 145,000 individuals to phony clients.

The Judiciary Committee will hear testimony from Federal Trade Commission chairwoman Deborah Platt Majoras, as well as witnesses from the FBI, Secret Service and privacy advocates. The hearing begins at 9:30 a.m. in the Dirksen Senate Office Building.

The latest LexisNexis thefts turned up in a review of data search activity over the last two years. The data came from the company's recently acquired Seisint unit which, like ChoicePoint, maintains collections of data on individuals for use by commercial and government customers.

Neither LexisNexis nor ChoicePoint was hacked. In each case, the thieves used valid names and passwords. The ChoicePoint thieves set up real accounts. At LexisNexis, passwords and IDs of legitimate users apparently were compromised.

LexisNexis announced it is strengthening password and ID administration and restricting access to sensitive data such as Social Security and driver's license numbers. Full numbers will be accessible only to law enforcement agencies and a limited group of authorized organizations, such as banks and insurance companies.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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