ChoicePoint: ‘Insurance Industry Databases Were Not Compromised’

By | February 17, 2005

ChoicePoint’s Clue Auto, Clue Property and Current Carrier insurance industry databases were not in any way involved or compromised by the fraud ring that obtained data from other ChoicePoint databases of public record information, according to Richard Collier, vice president and market leader for the ChoicePoint Personal Insurance Division.

“Our insurance customer database is 100 percent secure, as it has been for the last 18 years,” Collier, who is in charge of the ChoicePoint business unit responsible for insurance industry databases said.

“We sell a host of products to the insurance market and have for a very long time,” Collier said. “Our insurance database market is limited to insurance companies with certified A.M. Best numbers and their licensed and contracted insurance agents. That is our total market, we do not sell our products outside of that market.”

ChoicePoint has been building customer’s cooperative databases since Clue Auto, a claims database, was launched in 1987. Clue Property, a homeowner claims database began in 1992; and Current Carrier, a database used to confirm or prove existing or prior coverage launched in 2002.

Ninety-eight percent of all auto companies in the U.S. contribute to Clue Auto; 95 percent of all homeowners companies contribute to Clue Property; and 65 percent contribute to Current Carrier today, with commitments from customers to raise that to 75 percent by year-end.

Collier explained that a company must contribute to the database to have access to it. A client that contributes to the database can order information out of the database and has access to the database for themselves and their contracted insurance agents. Additionally, access to the three databases is secured via multiple passwords and points of authentication. The three programs are the only ones that contain insurance company data.

“We want to assure our industry partners that we are committed to the security of their data and the trust they have shown us in the past two decades,” Collier said.

The fraud did not involve hacking of any of ChoicePoint’s databases according to Chuck Jones, director of external affairs.

“The widely reported fraud investigation now taking place in California was not a breach of ChoicePoint’s network or a “hacking” incident and did not involve any of ChoicePoint’s customer information,” Jones told Insurance Journal.

“The fraud was initially discovered last fall, but law enforcement authorities did not allow ChoicePoint to disclose the incident until now so as not to compromise their investigation,” Jones explained.

ChoicePoint has notified approximately 35,000 California residents that their information may have been accessed by a very small number of criminals posing as legitimate companies to gain access to information about consumers. Additional disclosures will be forthcoming to approximately 110,000 consumers outside of California whose information also may have been accessed.

“Law enforcement officials informed us Wednesday that their current investigation has identified approximately 750 people who have been the victims of identity theft in this incident,” Jones said.

ChoicePoint is sending letters to potentially impacted consumers, providing advice and tools to help them spot potential identity theft. We have also created a dedicated toll-free number to assist them.

It appears that consumers’ names, addresses, Social Security numbers and credit reports may have been viewed by these individuals, who posed as legitimate business customers with a lawful purpose for accessing information about individuals which, in fact, was not the case.

“We are unable to discuss many specifics of the incident because law enforcement agencies have advised that release of any additional details could compromise the on-going investigations,” Jones said. “Financial fraud conducted by seemingly legitimate businesses is a pervasive problem in the economy. While ChoicePoint offers a wide range of tools to help detect fraud, no one including us is immune from it.”

Jones said ChoicePoint acted quickly to address the circumstances that led to the unauthorized access.

“We are continually updating our processes and procedures to ensure the integrity of our systems and the information they contain,” Jones said. “ChoicePoint remains committed to its core principles of working to create a safer, more secure society through the responsible use of information while ensuring the protection of personal privacy.”

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