Finance Globe

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ID Thieves Bought Credit Reports from Credit Reporting Agency

We've heard plenty about the various methods identity thieves use to steal people's private information. Some go dumpster diving, some come up with a ploy to trick consumers out of their private information, some steal wallets and mail.

And some actually buy the consumer's information directly from a consumer credit reporting agency.

The Federal Trade Commission reported on Thursday that it has charged Minnesota-based Rental Research Services, Inc. and owner Lee Mikkelson with violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The FTC alleges that the company furnished credit reports to people who weren't properly screened and failed to verify that applicants had a legitimate need for credit reports.

Rental Research Services used sensitive financial data obtained from other credit reporting agencies to compile consumer reports. Landlords could apply to gain unlimited online access to credit checks for potential tenants.

These reports contain consumers’ names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, bank and credit card account numbers, credit histories, and other personal information.

According to the FTC complaint, the defendants only requested publicly-available information from landlords and didn't require additional documentation that the client was actually a landlord with a legitimate need for a consumer report.

As a result, identity thieves posing as landlords were able to access at least 318 consumer credit reports.

Rental Research Services agreed to a settlement with the FTC that it violated federal law. Under the settlement, the company must ensure that they provide credit reports only to legitimate businesses for lawful purposes, use a comprehensive information security program, and obtain independent audits every other year for 20 years. The settlement also imposes a $500,000 penalty but suspends payment due to the defendants’ inability to pay.

The FTC files a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The complaint is not a finding or ruling that the defendants have actually violated the law. The case will be decided by the court. Stipulated final orders are for settlement purposes only and do not constitute an admission by the defendant of a law violation. A stipulated final order requires approval by the court and has the force of law when signed by the judge.

The FTC is the nation's consumer protection agency against fraudulent, deceptive, or abusive business practices.

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Saturday, 04 February 2023

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