Attorney General Long Reaches Agreement with ChoicePoint
PIERRE, S.D. - Attorney General Larry Long today joined the attorneys general of 43 other states to announce a settlement with ChoicePoint, Inc., to resolve allegations that the company failed to adequately maintain the privacy and security of consumers’ personally identifiable information that was in its control.
ChoicePoint is a provider of identification and credential verification services to businesses, government and non-profit organizations. ChoicePoint, among other things, collects, maintains, and distributes consumers’ personally identifiable information. In February 2005, ChoicePoint announced that criminals posing as legitimate businesses gained access to consumers’ personally identifiable information. In the wake of these crimes, ChoicePoint, using the California breach notification law as a guide, mailed more than 145,000 notices to consumers across the country whose information may have been viewed or acquired by the criminals.
As part of this settlement, ChoicePoint will make significant, ongoing changes in the way that the company credentials new customers who have access to personally identifiable information. For the first time, a data broker has agreed to safeguard publicly available information using the same credentialing methods as it uses to safeguard financial information that is protected by law. Certain sensitive publicly available information, including Social Security numbers, will now receive greater protection. ChoicePoint will pay $500,000 to the states with South Dakota receiving as its share in the settlement.
In January 2006, ChoicePoint settled its case with the Federal Trade Commission and paid $5 million into a pool to be used for consumer redress. The FTC settlement requires ChoicePoint to improve its process for accepting clients that obtain information from credit reports. The settlement entered into today by the states goes beyond the FTC settlement and requires ChoicePoint to improve its credentialing process for clients that obtain Social Security numbers and other forms of personally sensitive information.
Consumers who suffered out of pocket expenses relating to identity theft that resulted from the ChoicePoint breach may obtain redress under the FTC Order. The deadline to submit a redress claim form to the FTC is June 22, 2007. If consumers meet the eligibility requirements for redress, they can complete the redress form and submit that for consideration.
Examples of expenses for which consumers may be reimbursed:
- Unauthorized charges on existing accounts NOT covered by bank or credit card company
- Money paid on new accounts opened in consumer’s name
- Money paid to a debt collector on new accounts opened in consumer’s name
- Cost of ordering new checks
- Cost to file or receive copy of police report
- Notary fees
- Costs associated with correcting unauthorized charges and/or disputing incorrect information – telephone calls; mail, fax, photocopy charges; hourly fees for internet access; travel expenses.
If you need any additional information regarding this settlement call the South Dakota Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-300-1986 or the Attorney General’s Office at 1-605-773-3215.