ChoicePoint, a Georgia-based corporation and 1997 spin-off from Equifax Inc., provides risk-management and fraud-prevention data. Traditionally, ChoicePoint provided motor vehicle reports, claims histories, and similar data to the automobile insurance industry, but in recent years it broadened its customer base to include general business and government agencies. ChoicePoint collects, stores, and sells the personal information of consumers (e.g., social security numbers, birth dates, employment information, criminal histories and credit histories) to more than 50,000 businesses and agencies. The company also offered data for volunteer and job-applicant screening and data to assist in the location of missing children. In 2004 ChoicePoint had over 4,000 employees, and its revenue was $918 million. In the fall of 2004, ChoicePoint was the victim of a fraudulent spoofing attack in which unauthorized individuals posed as legitimate customers and obtained personal data on more than 145,000 individuals. According to the company's Web site: “These criminals were able to pass our customer authentication due diligence processes by using stolen identities to create and produce the documents needed to appear legitimate. As small business customers of ChoicePoint, these fraudsters accessed products that contained basic telephone directory-type data (name and address information) as well as a combination of Social Security numbers and/or driver's license numbers and, at times, abbreviated credit reports. They were also able to obtain other public record information including, but not limited to bankruptcies, liens, and judgments; professional licenses; and real property data.” ChoicePoint became fully aware of the problem in October 2004, when it noticed unusual processing activity on some accounts in Los Angeles. Accordingly, the company contacted the Los Angeles Police Department, which requested that ChoicePoint not reveal the activity until the...
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