posted on Apr, 4 2005 @ 11:01 AM
How safe is your personal information? Not very according to the Washington Post. Social Security numbers are bought and sold every day on the
Internet. Prices for this "master key" of personal information range from $35-$45, depending on the site selling the numbers. The sites claim that
the information is available to help law enforcement and to aid private investigators to track down deadbeat dads and the like. However, the
information is readilly available to anyone with the cash to buy it, and only performs minimal checks to ensure a person's legitimacy in wanting the
Brokers such as ChoicePoint Inc. and LexisNexis have pledged to restrict the availability of such data after personal information on more than
175,000 people was purloined from the two firms by identity thieves posing as legitimate businessmen.
So far, neither those moves nor revelations of a series of breaches at major banks and universities has curbed a multi-tiered and sometimes shadowy
marketplace of selling and re-selling personal data that is vulnerable to similar fraud.
A simple Internet search yields more than a dozen Web sites offering an array of personal data.
Some are run by small data brokers and other re-sellers. Others are run by private investigators, many of whom have complained that recently announced
restrictions on the availability of Social Security numbers would hurt their ability to assist law-enforcement, track down deadbeat dads or locate
Yet with only scant checks to verify whether someone requesting data is legitimate, several sites sell full Social Security numbers, potentially
contributing to an epidemic of identity theft or fraud that touched about 10 million Americans in the past year.
Please visit the link provided for the complete story.
Web sites such as these are likely one of the largest contributors to identity theft in the US. There is currently no law prohibiting the sale of
Social Security numbers, and because of this, the problem continues to grow. Privacy experts have warned for years that the numbers are over-used and