Major US Credit Bureau Sold Social Security Numbers and Other Info to Scammer, Becomes Victim of Identity Theft
One of the top US credit bureaus is suffering the pains of identity theft.
According to reports, Experian, an credit protection service, sold social security numbers, as well as drivers’ license numbers, bank account, and credit card information for millions of Americans, to an identity theft service. An investigative report from Krebs on Security revealed that an Experian subsidiary, Court Ventures, sold the personal information to a Vietnamese hacker named Hieu Minh Ngo, who operated an identity theft service called SuperGet.info.
Ngo has since been indicted in New Hampshire after he entered the US.
Reportedly, Ngo posed as a private investigator in order to obtain access to Experian’s databases. The Krebs on Security report stated, however, that while the private investigator ruse could get Ngo past Experian’s initial layer of security, other signs should have tipped the company off to potential identity theft problems. For example, Ngo paid for monthly access to Experian’s databases using wire transfers from Singapore, despite allegedly being a US-based investigator.
“The issue in my mind was the fact that this went on for almost a year after Experian did their due diligence and purchased” Court Ventures, U.S. Info Search CEO Marc Martin said. “Why didn’t they question cash wires coming in every month? Experian portrays themselves as the databreach experts, and they sell identity theft protection services. How this could go on without them detecting it I don’t know. Our agreement with them was that our information was to be used for fraud prevention and ID verification, and was only to be sold to licensed and credentialed U.S. businesses, not to someone overseas.”
Experian refused to be interviewed, but it did release a written statement to Krebs on Security:
“Experian acquired Court Ventures in March, 2012 because of its national public records database. After the acquisition, the US Secret Service notified Experian that Court Ventures had been and was continuing to resell data from US Info Search to a third party possibly engaged in illegal activity. Following notice by the US Secret Service, Experian discontinued reselling US Info Search data and worked closely and in full cooperation with law enforcement to bring Vietnamese national Hieu Minh Ngo, the alleged perpetrator, to justice. Experian’s credit files were not accessed. Because of the ongoing federal investigation, we are not free to say anything further at this time.”
Is Your Identity Protected?
Identity theft has become the fastest growing crimes in the United States.
According to statistics from federal officials, one in every twenty Americans will fall victim to this crime. The only way to prevent this from happening is by reducing the risk that such a crime will affect you. Identity theft can ruin your name and your credit through erroneous charges and purchases, and even through the obtainment of loans that you neither applied for nor received funds from.
If you think that you have been a victim of identity theft, you should:
- File a police report immediately. This is important as this is evidence to be presented to creditors to claim your rights as a victim of identity theft.
- Report the identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission as this informs law enforcement officials throughout the United States of the pending investigation.
- Register Fraud Alert on your credit reports. This can inform credit reporting services of anomalous activity on your credit for ninety (90) days.
Identity Theft and Credit Card Fraud Can Hurt Your Future
If you have experienced identity theft, you are not alone. The attorneys at the Strom Law Firm can help clear your name and even reinstate your social security benefits. We offer free, confidential consultations to discuss the facts of your case. Do not hesitate to contact us. 803.252.4800