A company that sells personal data on consumers said Wednesday that it's alerting 145,000 Americans -- including 35,000 Californians -- that they might be vulnerable to identity theft after a crime ring paid for their credit reports, Social Security numbers and other sensitive information.About seven years ago a group of scammers set up a California bank so they could purchase credit card account information. This is a variant on this technique.
ChoicePoint, a Georgia company that boasts it has compiled the deepest database in the nation, said Tuesday that it had alerted 35,000 Californians that they were vulnerable, as required by state law. But it balked at first at notifying a far larger number of potential victims outside California.
It's much more effective to subvert the legal trade in identity information than it is to go out and steal the information oneself. The companies selling this information have to held liable for its misuse. That will, of course, increase the cost of the information for legitimate users. One wonders, however, how many legitimate uses of this information are truly essential.