“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 learned.
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 area.
[...] 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 [...]