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U.S. May Restrict Sale of Social Security Numbers
Reuters on Yahoo ^ | 3/15/05 | Andy Sullivan

Posted on 03/15/2005 9:45:47 PM PST by NormsRevenge

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Seeking to combat rampant identity theft, U.S. lawmakers said on Thursday they may clamp new restrictions on companies that amass and sell social security numbers and other personal information.

Executives from ChoicePoint (NYSE:CPS - news) and rival LexisNexis (ELSN.AS)(REL.L) told legislators that they had scaled back the sale of sensitive personal information following revelations in recent weeks that identity thieves gained access to more than 177,000 of the consumer profiles they sell.

But lawmakers said during the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee hearing that data brokers should not be allowed to sell Social Security (news - web sites) numbers without permission from the individuals involved.

"There's a very good chance we're going to put together a bill," said committee chairman Joe Barton, a Texas Republican.

"I've not heard anything that explains to me why we should allow that to go on," said Barton, who said he would probably carve out an exemption for police investigations.

Government-issued social security numbers are considered the key to identity-theft scams because they are frequently used as unique identifiers by banks and other companies that handle sensitive information, such as medical records.

"This is an industry still in denial, that still doesn't recognize how highly Americans value their privacy, and hopes to ride out this scandal," said Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Ed Markey, who has already introduced such a bill.


ChoicePoint and other data brokers have operated largely free of restrictions as they amass driving records, fingerprints and other personal details into comprehensive profiles they sell to law enforcement agencies, landlords and businesses.

But regulation appears likely. Last month, ChoicePoint revealed it had inadvertently sold 145,000 profiles to identity thieves, and LexisNexis said criminals had gained access to 32,000 profiles at its Seisint subsidiary.

More painful revelations may be ahead.

At a separate hearing by the Senate Banking Committee, ChoicePoint vice president Don McGuffey said the company had "a handful" of breaches in the past that it has not made public. McGuffey said he did not know enough to elaborate.

The chairman of the Federal Trade Commission said last week that data brokers should be required to take reasonable precautions to protect consumer profiles, and tell consumers when security breaches place that data at risk.

Senators have suggested other approaches, from fining companies that don't protect consumer data to withholding government business from those that have poor security.

ChoicePoint and LexisNexis officials said they supported greater security requirements and a national disclosure law, as well as some restrictions that would limit the disclosure of Social Security numbers.

But they tried to convince the committee that they needed to use Social Security numbers to differentiate between people with the same name.

"We just need to make sure that we can maintain the uniqueness of these individuals," said ChoicePoint chief executive Derek Smith.

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Crime/Corruption; Front Page News; Government
KEYWORDS: choicepoint; fraud; lexisnexis; numbers; privacy; restrict; sale; socialsecurity
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Private firms gathering and selling information about you to make a profit... w/o supervision or clear guidelines.


1 posted on 03/15/2005 9:45:47 PM PST by NormsRevenge
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To: NormsRevenge

2 posted on 03/15/2005 9:48:53 PM PST by NormsRevenge (Semper Fi ...... The War on Terrorism is the ultimate 'faith-based' initiative.)
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To: NormsRevenge

3 posted on 03/15/2005 9:49:10 PM PST by agitator (...And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark)
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To: NormsRevenge
I'd like to see some safeguards against the transfer or this kind of info. over seas as well as limitations on accessibility based upon geography/US jurisdiction.
4 posted on 03/15/2005 9:50:02 PM PST by Texas_Jarhead
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To: Texas_Jarhead

over + seas = overseas

5 posted on 03/15/2005 9:50:41 PM PST by Texas_Jarhead
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To: Texas_Jarhead

Nevermind the transfer of this info, the COLLECTION of this info. without my consent should be illegal!

6 posted on 03/15/2005 9:55:12 PM PST by spyone
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To: NormsRevenge

"Private firms gathering and selling information about you to make a profit... w/o supervision or clear guidelines."

Numerous state DMV's sell personal information. They too should be included.

7 posted on 03/15/2005 9:56:42 PM PST by politicalwit (Republican and Democrats are across the aisle but sleep in the same bed.)
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To: NormsRevenge

Ooooo What an idea, DON'T SELL OTHERS PERSONAL INFORMATION! Make it illegal, protect the people for once! What a concept! </sarcasm>

8 posted on 03/15/2005 9:58:07 PM PST by Danae (Liberalism is a mental disorder.)
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To: spyone
I completely agree but of course any application for credit that you've ever filled out contains clauses that allow such collection and transfer. Hell just about anything having to do with finance includes such clauses to which one eventually agrees if they desire to transact business.
9 posted on 03/15/2005 9:59:18 PM PST by Texas_Jarhead
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To: NormsRevenge
Legislation by crisis.

Why is it that Congress is always right there to close the barn door, well after all of the livestock has skipped town?

Had B of A not lost government official's SS info. Congress would still be blindly oblivious to the need to ensure citizens' private data is protected.

Of course the Rats will demand that a government agency be in charge of controlling this data, rather than merely helping the industry establish appropriate privacy protection, ID fraud prevention, and data security guidelines. As badly as ChoicePoint handled things, more government bureaucracy will certainly make it worse and less secure.
10 posted on 03/15/2005 10:04:00 PM PST by anymouse
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To: Danae

Wow. I didn't even know that my social security number was for sale. I guess that's because I never put it up for sale. So how much to buy it back? Destoyed credit and mountains of debt incurred by some criminal? Doesn't sound like a fair deal, especially since I never got the $$ from the sale in the first place.

11 posted on 03/15/2005 10:05:10 PM PST by Electrowoman
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To: Electrowoman

Your SSN might be sold by your mortgage company. It is all in the fine print they make you sogn off on. Anytime you give out that number, you are taking the risk that it might be sold along with all your personal information to a thrid party. All by that simple little signature at the bottom of the page. You REALLY have to read what you sign now-a-days.

12 posted on 03/15/2005 10:08:12 PM PST by Danae (Liberalism is a mental disorder.)
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To: NormsRevenge
How the hell did we ever get to the point where peoples SS numbers are being bought and sold. Unbelievable. I am thoroughly disgusted
13 posted on 03/15/2005 10:10:29 PM PST by paul51 (11 September 2001 - Never forget)
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To: NormsRevenge

Your social security number should be between you, your employer(s) and the Feds, no one else.

Likewise for Drivers' License number, between you and the issuing agency/jurisdictions.

If private commerce wants an ID system, let them develop their own to which we as consumers can subscribe or not as we see fit.

14 posted on 03/15/2005 10:13:56 PM PST by 1066AD
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To: paul51

How the hell do I just "tune out and drop out"??? Hmmm, let's see, if I don't owe any money nor ask to borrow any, don't have credit cards, could I just disappear? Aw crap, I got a drivers license, but heck, all I gotta do is get a fake SS card like illegals do and use it to get a fake drivers license, then can I just disappear?

15 posted on 03/15/2005 10:49:41 PM PST by biff
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Comment #16 Removed by Moderator

To: NormsRevenge

Well DUH!!!...hello government!....move your big bureaucratic Butt!

17 posted on 03/16/2005 2:49:56 AM PST by Route101
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To: All

for those who are interested in property rights,

there is teh legal concept of the "property of your person".

Is you personal information your property? Do you own yourself? Do you have a right to be secure in controlling the property of your person?

I think it is fair to restrict the sale of a persons social security number in much the same way we regulate the sale of kidneys.

18 posted on 03/16/2005 2:59:24 AM PST by longtermmemmory (VOTE!)
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To: NormsRevenge

What are law enforcement agencies doing buying consumer profiles? They have NO business doing that without a warrant, and if they have a warrant, they have no need to buy the info. Inquiring minds wish to know.

19 posted on 03/16/2005 8:02:17 AM PST by ex 98C MI Dude (Proud Member of the Reagan Republicans)
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To: longtermmemmory

Property rights? Everyone has rights to my property except me. If I had 1 penny for every piece of junk mail, telephone call, email spam, etc. that I receive(d) due to my private information being sold to these yahoos without my permission, I could retire. If these goons who sell my name and information were forced to pay me a per centage for using and selling my name and personal information, there would be a whole lot less junk mail, scams, spams, crank calls, etc. to contend with. If that isn't bad enough, the same yahoos that buy and sell your name and private info, also have a tendency of losing it to the wrong people.

Now, privacy rights - that is another issue, but closely related. My name is my property, along with my credit history, assets, etc. It is my humble opinion that many other people seem to believe the same. However, by government mandate we are forced to divulge private information to our employers, doctors, dentists, etc. every time we need a check up or to get our teeth cleaned. We are forced to provide private information about ourselves that in turn must be made readily available to any government agency that inquires, and we are forced to sign a form that indicates we acknowledge we have "privacy rights" under a Clinton endorsed "privacy" act. The medical forms we sign specifically state that our "private" information could be submitted for use by other doctors, insurance companies, and/or government agencies for security purposes. These agencies are the very ones who hire companies like "ChoicePoint" to analyze and scrutinize our private data only to lose it to hackers.

Lawmakers should be paying the taxpayers for their personal information - not billing the taxpayers for their personal information then selling it to the first group who comes along to fill a campaign coffer.

Excuse me ... don't mean to rant. But I agree with your opinion. Our social security numbers were never meant to be sold, and should not be sold under any circumstance.

20 posted on 03/16/2005 7:47:52 PM PST by tomball
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