US Search.com Settles NY AG Investigation Over Use and Sale of Non-public Information

found in public domain, such as court records, real estate records and telephone directories. The company also offered businesses non-public personally identifiable information from credit reporting agencies - Equifax, TransUnion and Experian - and financial institutions.

The New York Attorney General announced on May 20, 2008, a settlement relating to charges that the company illegally accessed and sold consumer data compiled by these agencies as an "extra benefit" to business clients by falsely claiming to have a lawful purpose for the data. The data included sensitive information including consumers' names, aliases, current/prior addresses, telephone numbers and birth dates. The AG alleged that the company also accessed Social Security numbers as a way to verify the sensitive information. AG alleged that US Search illegally obtained private consumer information more than 2,385 times.

Under the terms of the settlement, US Search.com immediately suspend its use of credit bureau data; agreed to pay $250,000 in penalties, (approximately five times the amount it made from selling the allegedly illegally obtained information). Consistent with other investigations, the Attorney General also requires the company's clients to certify that they have a permissible purpose for accessing non-public personal information and allow all certifications to be inspected by the Attorney General's Office upon request. The company is also required to train those responsible for accessing, using or disclosing any non-public personal information to ensure compliance with terms of the settlement and all applicable laws.

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