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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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Dot April 04 2014 at 12:20 PM

Just another reason I hate the credit reporting process! I rarely have need to request additional credit; but, when I do, I'm generally rejected by the credit reporting agency because of factors having nothing to do with my current ability to pay. Just hope any crook who got my SSN gets denied, too! Wouldn't that take the cake--if he/she was able to get credit?

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cpamiles April 04 2014 at 12:29 PM

Great for Experian! Now they get more business trying to force everyone to buy their monitoring services. Great strategy. What is wrong with this country? Lets put a stop to all of this B.S.

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broleotskb April 04 2014 at 12:30 PM

Absolutely, the Gov. should now issue ALL the numbers compromised with new numbers. When your debit or CC card is compromised, you get a new one so the exact same should apply. But here is the problem. All that information we fill out for CC's, applications etc. would now have to change. The logistics behind issuing new numbers is horrifying. Other below have said to shut this junk down and so should it be!

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1 reply
rdcabe broleotskb April 04 2014 at 12:33 PM

yaeh then when you need it they have it all screwed up even worse

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budshort April 04 2014 at 12:31 PM

I see from the SSA FAQ that only 420 million SS numbers have been issued since Nov. 1936. Figuring number of people with SS numbers that have died and that 6.1% of Americans have at least two SS numbers, (100,000 Americans have five or more SS numbers) the 200 million number pretty much covers everybody.

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Hi Rob April 04 2014 at 6:20 PM

you know why people keep doing this is because they dont get punished just a slap on you hands and told dont do it again.they should have there hands cut off. and if they continue to do crime then kill them. they wont do it again.

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2 replies
tugsboat Hi Rob April 04 2014 at 6:30 PM

Heaven forbid that is not Progessive now is it! Even these poor sould have redemption while the rest of us have our nuts twisting in the wind! PC will be the death of us all sooner rather than later!

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William Hi Rob April 04 2014 at 6:34 PM

Liberal rebabilitation works better. Ask obie he will tell you.

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scott April 04 2014 at 12:32 PM

Brilliant--show a SS card with only the middle number blocked out. So anyone can guess one of the two hundred combos of 0-9 two digits,

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2 replies
goodgrief61945 scott April 04 2014 at 12:44 PM

200? Hmm, going to have to think about that for a while.

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photogeorgehemet scott April 04 2014 at 1:00 PM

0-99 equals 100 combos Ding Dong.

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rraschle April 04 2014 at 12:32 PM

the goverment should and must force experian to place a insurance policy on ALL the poeple that they screwed...

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ME April 04 2014 at 6:09 PM

The so called "Congress of the United States" should be bringing Court Ventures and U.S. Info Search and Experian to accountability and laws that are being ignored about S.S. numbers by businesses that are not the IRS, medicare or other government needs should be upheld and given very little time to drop these numbers from their ability to run the businesses. Is this Congress for the people of the United States. The laws they pass in ridiculous numbers are not being followed so they pass more instead of bringing the people to task that are breaking them. Who pays the price...?

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1 reply
William ME April 04 2014 at 6:36 PM

Your SSN is not to be used for ID porposes. It's in the original law.

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1 reply
SisPastor William April 04 2014 at 7:09 PM

You are so right William! Then someone needs to get this all put back to the original intent of Social Security. Find a way for American ID's to be protected! If the elected people in D.C. can't do that . . then they ALL should be impeached . . from the Oval Office, the Senate and the Congress . . and all "special interest groups" removed from influence. All elected officials need to remember that they were elected to be "servants" to the American "citizenry". Not to be monarchs or hold offices eternally. This next election should see a THOROUGH house cleaning! But will the citizens have the courage to sweep it clean? I rather doubt it. And if that's the case, it's our own fault for giving them another chance to steal from all Americans. And if people are here illegally, then put together a "working" system to deport illegals from our Nation. We welcome wholeheartedly those that obey our laws on immigration! But people who are breaking those laws by crossing our borders without documentation, they should be immediately deported. I'm a third generation American. My Grandma, who was very poor, came into America after fleeing the Nazi's. SHE CAME IN LEGALLY! Why should it be any different today?

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kabube April 04 2014 at 12:34 PM

Our government continues to amaze me on their inability to make things work. Maybe they do it on purpose--the lowest forms of life are politician/lawyers--put them together and you have crap lower than whale poop!

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millyfromphilly6 April 04 2014 at 12:36 PM

We should be told who and what to fnd o ut if our account was jeoparized.

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