ChoicePoint to Allow People Access to Personal Records

An executive of embattled data broker ChoicePoint Inc. said the company is developing a system that would allow people to review their personal information that is sold to law enforcement agencies, employers, landlords and businesses.

“You will receive the reports that we have on you,” Don McGuffey, the firm’s vice president for data acquisition, told the state’s Senate’s Banking, Finance and Insurance Committee in Sacramento on Wednesday.

ChoicePoint’s announcement comes a month after it disclosed that thieves used previously stolen identities to create what appeared to be legitimate businesses seeking personal records. The bandits, who operated undetected for more than a year, opened up 50 accounts and received vast amounts of data on consumers, including their credit reports.

The breach affected nearly 145,000 people nationwide, including more than 34,000 in California, the company, which is based in suburban Atlanta, said in February. Authorities said 750 people were defrauded.

As part of safeguards to prevent recurrences, ChoicePoint is altering records to keep clients from having access to complete Social Security and driver’s license numbers, McGuffey said.

The measures appear to partly satisfy the demands of committee chairwoman Sen. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough, who has introduced legislation to limit what she said was an industry “that has grown up overnight with no regulations whatsoever.”

Earlier this month, a Nigerian national was sentenced in Los Angeles to five-and-a-half years in federal prison for using personal information from ChoicePoint and other companies to commit identity theft against thousands of people.

Adedayo Benson, 38, was ordered to pay nearly $155,000 in restitution to 10 financial institutions.

In the same case, his sister, Bibiana Benson, was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in federal prison after pleading guilty to unlawful use of identification. She is appealing her sentence.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.