TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Purloined Lives

Purloined Lives

Monty Solomon (
Sat, 26 Mar 2005 09:43:16 -0500

March 17, 2005

SAN FRANCISCO, March 16 - The phone lines are seldom quiet for long at
the nonprofit Identity Theft Resource Center. But lately they have
been ringing almost continually.

The calls come from people like Warren Lambert, who phoned on Feb. 18,
the same day he received a letter conveying alarming news from
ChoicePoint, a company that compiles data on millions of citizens. It
was only one of more than 140,000 such letters ChoicePoint has mailed
in recent weeks, informing people like Mr. Lambert that computer files
containing their names, addresses and Social Security numbers, among
other critical personal data, had been inadvertently sold to "several
individuals, posing as legitimate business customers."

Mr. Lambert, a 67-year-old retiree living in San Francisco, called the
identity theft hotline to ask not only what immediate steps he should
take but, more important, "what I'm going to be exposed to."

The immediate steps were clear, according to Jay Foley, who with his
wife, Linda, runs the ID theft counseling center from their home in
San Diego. Mr. Lambert needed to phone the three major credit
reporting agencies to find out if any credit cards or other accounts
had been opened in his name -- none had, so far -- and then place a
"fraud alert" on his accounts, to warn potential creditors not to open
additional accounts in Mr. Lambert's name without fuller verification.

But Mr. Lambert also needed to understand that the privacy breach
meant he now had something similar to an incurable virus -- a chronic
condition he would need to monitor for the rest of his life.

Post Followup Article Use your browser's quoting feature to quote article into reply
Go to Next message: Monty Solomon: "F.C.C. Extends 'Truth in Billing' Guidelines to Cellphones"
Go to Previous message: Monty Solomon: "As File Sharing Nears High Court, Net Specialists Worry"
TELECOM Digest: Home Page