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U.S. states probing security breach at Experian unit

Security Breach At Experian

By Jim Finkle and Karen Freifeld

(Reuters) - U.S. attorneys general have launched a multi-state investigation into a breach in which criminals gained access to a repository of some 200 million social security numbers through a unit of data provider Experian Plc.

"We are investigating," said Maura Possley, a spokeswoman for Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. "It's part of a multistate investigation."

Jaclyn Falkowski, spokeswoman for Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen, said that Connecticut is looking into the matter also.

Neither attorney general's office would say if other states were involved.

A spokesman for Experian declined comment on the probe, saying the company does not comment on such investigations as a matter of policy.

Vietnamese national Hieu Minh Ngo last month pleaded guilty in New Hampshire federal court to running an underground website that offered clients access to personal data of Americans including social security numbers, which could be used for identity theft and other types of financial fraud.

Federal authorities say that he obtained some of that through a U.S. firm known as Court Ventures, which provides customers with access to court records. It also offers them access to a database of social security numbers of some 200 million Americans through a data-share arrangement with another firm, known as U.S. Info Search.

Ngo obtained an account with Court Ventures sometime before March 2012, when Experian bought the data firm, by posing as a Singapore-based private investigator, according to court documents.

Prosecutors say that Ngo's customers used Court Ventures to make some 3.1 million queries of the U.S. Info Search database over an 18-month period ending in February 2013. Authorities have not said how many people's data was accessed through those queries, each of which could have potentially included multiple records or returned no data.

Officials with both Experian and U.S. Info Search say they have not been able to ascertain which records were accessed by Ngo's customers and are therefore unable to notify victims.

"We are actively pursuing the facts and we are working to help uncover what records may have been affected," said Experian spokesman Gerry Tschopp.

A spokesman for the U.S. Secret Service declined comment. The agency investigated Ngo using undercover agents and lured him from Vietnam to Guam where he was arrested.

He is now awaiting sentencing in New Hampshire federal court.

(Reporting by Jim Finkle and Karen Freifeld; Editing by Richard Valdmanis and Lisa Shumaker)

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orsetna April 04 2014 at 12:43 PM

this ******* government doesn't give a **** about us. and do you seriously think anything is going to this ngo man.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
BUBBLESNSTUFF April 04 2014 at 1:16 PM

IM GLAD THAT HE PLEADED GUILTY LAST MONTH AND WE ARE JUST NOW HEARING ABOUT IT... THAT MEANS THIS HAPPENED A WHILE AGO

Flag Reply +7 rate up
emberbb April 04 2014 at 1:19 PM

Will we ever see an end to all this stealing, no matter where or who? We don't need to worry about a war -- between mother nature and technology, we are doomed. God Bless the children.

Flag Reply +12 rate up
2 replies
englemanlisa emberbb April 04 2014 at 1:28 PM

I wholeheartedly agree. And if it's not thieves trying to steal your identity, it's jerks trying to get you to install a virus on your computer.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
Dlmrocks emberbb April 04 2014 at 1:53 PM

Quit putting all this info ONLINE where there is so much access for criminals of the WORLD!

Flag Reply 0 rate up
Dick April 04 2014 at 1:19 PM

How do I find out if I have been screwed over??? This report is incomplete.

Flag Reply +8 rate up
3 replies
garfygoldstein April 04 2014 at 1:25 PM

Sad to say , but everything is on the web where hackers can get it. we have no choice.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
1 reply
desperados240 garfygoldstein April 04 2014 at 1:49 PM

Americans deserve complete respect

Flag Reply 0 rate up
dimaxjordan April 04 2014 at 1:34 PM

Experian gave over PHI after a boy was able to convince them he was who???

And people shake their heads when little old ladies get suckered by ridiculous-sounding scams.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
chuckcelt April 04 2014 at 1:39 PM

This is what comes from banking, education and other businesses using SS numbers as ID. When SS was instituted, it was meant only for SS. Now everything from your bank statement to your college transcripts to court records depends upon it. Know wonder ID theft has become big business.

Flag Reply +12 rate up
1 reply
msjo9 chuckcelt April 04 2014 at 1:44 PM

Don't forget to add city governments. The Income Tax Department of Akron, Ohio was hacked last year after ignoring the state of Ohio's warnings for more firewalls, and only using the last four digits of SSN, instead of all 9 numbers. Nothing seems safe anymore.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
GEORGE April 04 2014 at 1:42 PM

Hackers stealing information to use for criminal purposes should be giving a sentence of life in jail. Unless stiff jail sentences are handed out the hacking will continue.

Flag Reply +11 rate up
1 reply
jdonoh4 GEORGE April 04 2014 at 1:53 PM

I believe you mean "given", not "giving".

Flag Reply 0 rate up
2 replies
Hi Stella jdonoh4 April 04 2014 at 1:55 PM

nitpicker

Flag +5 rate up
tas10000 jdonoh4 April 04 2014 at 2:01 PM

Shouldn't that be "knitpicker?"

Flag 0 rate up
karen and pitts April 04 2014 at 1:42 PM

thats why i have no credit cards and a thin file, aka no history. credit card companies are blood ******* leaches that should all be put out of business. when i was at fsu they came on campus and gave away t shirts to students with no jobs if you signed up for a card. the card came with a fifty dollar charge for opening it and a 200 dollar limit so you only had 150 balance open to buy from the get go and had to make a payment on the 50 dollars. so a lot of kids got into credit card debt before they even graduated. sorry scumbags.

Flag Reply +8 rate up
2 replies
larry karen and pitts April 04 2014 at 2:03 PM

This deals with Social Security breaches. Whether you have credit cards or not, this can effect your bank loans, house mortgage, car payments and any business that you deal with that reports to a credit bureau. I find it hard to believe you have never had credit or no credit status. If you don't have a credit history you may find it hard to rent a car, boat or home or apply for a home, car or boat loan. Even getting electric service, cable TV, or phone service in your name may be difficult. This world revolves on credit and credit-worthy people. Credit history is almost mandatory to get thru life on a daily basis.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
Dale karen and pitts April 04 2014 at 2:27 PM

I assume you pay taxes right??? The government is more vulnerable than anything...

Flag Reply 0 rate up
mc_drelder April 04 2014 at 1:42 PM

how and when can we find out if we have been compromised?

Flag Reply +3 rate up
4 replies
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