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Posts Tagged ‘FTC’

Hewlett-Packard Pretextors Fined

Posted by Bill on May 28, 2008

  From Wired:  A key figure who pleaded guilty to federal charges in connection to the Hewlett-Packard spying scandal was ordered Wednesday to pay hefty fines and to refrain from selling personal phone records obtain fraudulently via pretexting.

A Florida judge ordered Bryan Wagner to pay $428,000 in ill-gotten gains and his co-owner of Eye in the Sky Investigation, Cassandra Selvage, to give up $110,762, according to a default order in a civil suit brought by the Federal Trade Commission. The two did not defend themselves in court, an FTC spokeswoman said.  Click Here for Wired Blog Story  See Also PC World Article

Click Here FTC Press Release

“According to the FTC complaint, the Telecommunications Act of 1996 provides that a customer’s phone records may only be disclosed “upon affirmative written request by the customer.” But the agency alleged that since at least 2005 Action Research Group, Inc., and its principals, Joseph and Matthew DePantes, sold confidential customer phone records, including lists of calls made and the dates, times, and duration of the calls, to third parties, without the knowledge or consent of the customers. To get the records, these defendants relied upon the other defendants, Eye in the Sky Investigations, Inc., Cassandra Selvage and Bryan Wagner, who obtained them from phone companies through “pretexting” – using “false pretenses, fraudulent statements, fraudulent or stolen documents or other misrepresentations, including posing as an account holder or as an employee” of a phone company. Selling the records constitutes an invasion of privacy that could endanger the health and safety of consumers, the agency alleged.

The DePantes and ARG agreed to settle the FTC charges. Defendants ESI, Cassandra Selvage, and Bryan Wagner are subject to default judgments entered by the court.

The settlement and default judgments permanently bar the defendants from obtaining, marketing or selling customer phone records or consumers’ personal information derived from those records. They also bar the defendants from pretexting or using others to pretext to obtain consumers’ information. The settlement order entered a judgment in the amount of $67,000 against the DePantes and ARG, the estimated amount of ill-gotten gains the defendants earned from their illegal scheme; the judgment was suspended upon a payment of $3,000 based on the defendants’ inability to pay. In the default judgments, the court ordered Wagner to give up $428,085 in ill-gotten gains and ESI and Selvage to give up $110,762.”

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More Telephone Pretexting–When Will They Learn

Posted by Bill on January 29, 2008

telephone.jpg  The Federal Trade Commission is at it again.  The FTC announced yesterday that a District Court ordered Accusearch in Wyoming not to pretext phone companies and sell the information.  Folks, people or firms who get telephone customer information by pretexting the phone company are not within the law.  Do not deal with them.  See FTC Press Release HereSee PC World Story Here

See Court Order Here

Later I will post other misdeeds or trials for other wayward private investigators.  If anyone wants to hire private investigators make sure they do the work legally and within the law.

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

Information Insights Inc.

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FTC Testifies In Congress On Efforts To Combat Identity Theft

Posted by Bill on December 18, 2007

Winston  Joel Winston, FTC, testifies

“The Federal Trade Commission today told the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security that identity theft remains one of the highest priorities for the Commission, and that the agency is playing a lead role in preventing identity theft and helping those who are victimized.”  See FTC Press Release.

FTC will report next year to Congress with recommendations regarding the private sectors use of Social Security Numbers.

Read the prepared statement of Joel Winston, Associate Director, Division of Privacy and Identity Protection. FTC Statement before Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, House Committee on the Judiciary.

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

president@piava.org

Posted in attorneys, Investigations, lawyers, PIAVA, private detective, private investigations, private investigators, Public Records, Virginia | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

FTC Settles Florida Pretexting Phone Plot

Posted by Bill on December 17, 2007

Phone line    Thanks to Bruce Hulme, NCISS Legislative Director, NCISS, for alerting us that the Federal Trade Commission settled a telephone pretext case filed against CEO Group Inc., doing business as “Check Em Out,” and five other Web-based operations that obtained and sold consumer’s confidential telephone records to third parties.  The defendants were charged by the FTC with violating the Telecommunications Act of 1996 which provides that customer’s phone records may only be disclosed “upon affirmative written request by the customer.”  Read the FTC’s press release here

Read the court filing Pretext CEO Case

In another FTC case filed in the US District Court, Middle District of Florida, against Action Research and Joseph Depante a motion to stay was recently filed asking that the FTC be given time to consider a settlement.  See the filed Motion:  FTC Pretext Depante

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

president@piava.org

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FTC SSN Workshop–What’s It Mean?

Posted by Bill on December 13, 2007

  ftc-web.jpg     The FTC had a two day workshop “to explore the uses of Social Security numbers in the private sector and the role of SSNs in identity theft.”  The workshop is part of the work of the President’s Identity Theft Task Force to reduce “unnecessary uses of the SSN.”   Various groups and individuals attended the workshop representing government, private business and consumers.  The focus of discussions was how SSNs are used by business and the government and how limiting access to a person’s SSN will prevent identity theft.  There was a lot of discussion defining and distinguishing use of the SSN as an identifier and an authenticator, how the SSN is used as such, and what alternative means of using the SSN as an identifier/authencator is available. 

Some consumer groups and private groups believe that the SSN should not be used for an identifier/authenticator, and that a different of identifying identity should be implemented.  The business and industry groups talked about how they use the SSN as identifying people and their related accounts and information.  It is clear the SSN is used to match and identify different people with various amounts of information.  The SSN is tightly woven into use as a national, unique identifier for records matching and internal and external reports.  The government requires that the banking, insurance and credit industries report information utilizing  the SSN.  But, as one panelist said, “The SSN is out there. You can’t take it back.”  My conclusion is much the same.  Some businesses, institutions and government agencies need to retain use of the SSN as a unique identifier.  This simplifies matching matching information.  I am sure the IRS is not going to stop using SSNs as its taxpayer identification number.  Banks and other income generating businesses will probably be required to report income to the IRS and other government agencies using the SSN.

According to Consumers Union, there are three bills pending in Congress to limit the use, sales and purchase of SSNs.  See SSN BillSummary.  I do not believe the private investigation industry is concerned about whether the SSN continues to be used as an identifier or authenticator.  The industry is more concerned about the exceptions in the bills being considered restricting the industry’s access to SSNs for legitimate investigative purposes.  The bills provide exceptions to use, sale or purchase of SSNs to law enforcement, for purposes of national security, public health, complying with state or federal tax law and several other exceptions.  There is no exception for litigation matters, insurance investigations, fraud investigations, missing persons investigations or any other legitimate business investigation.  This means that private investigators could not properly identify persons who are subject to an investigation or identify witnesses needed in an investigation.

The Graham-Leach-Blilley Act and the Drivers Privacy Protection Act restrict certain personal and private information access, but both laws provide exceptions for litigation matters, fraud matters and other legitimate investigations.  The same exceptions should be provide for in any legislation restricting access to SSNs.  The Federal Trade Commission should consider recommending such exceptions in their report to the President’s Identity Theft Task Force.  Legitimate investigations, being litigation matters, fraud matters, criminal defense matters, missing persons matters or buisness matters, should be named as an exception to restricting access to SSNs.

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

president@piava.org

Posted in attorneys, fraud, Investigations, law enforcement, lawyers, PIAVA, police, private detective, private investigations, private investigators, Research, Virginia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

FTC SSN Workshop Now Available Webcast–Watch It!

Posted by Bill on December 11, 2007

You can see and listen to the entire SSN Workshop discussions via webcast FTC Webcast here.

I was not able to attend today’s session, but it was reported to me that some speakers were very outspoken against the private investigation industry.  Perhaps, these people never needed the assistance of an attorney or private investigator, but they may change their outlook when and if a situation arises and they need help.  For example, if a person is indicted or charged with a crime, they need an attorney to help them defend themselves, unless, of course, they are in their own right a super lawyer.  Facts are needed in defending a criminal case.  The prosecutor has the facts and has a legion of FBI or IRS agents, along with a grand jury, to gather more facts.  What does the defense attorney have to assist the client?  Sometimes it is a hired “private investigator.”  I have worked on criminal defense cases, and the gathering of facts is the primary objective of many cases.  Sometimes, as a private investigator, you find the one witness who will testify for the defendant and, possibly, contribute to a “not guilty” verdict.  To deny private investigators and/or attorneys access to information to prepare a criminal defense case is certainly open to an immediate constitutional challenge.  I believe it has somehthing to do with “due process” and “right to fair trials” etc.  Of course, these mere constitutional values may be overlooked in denying defense investigators and defense attorneys the right to access needed identifying information to find witnesses or challenge prosecution witnesses.

But, I digress.  I did not intend to write a summary of today’s FTC workshop.  I will do that tomorrow after watching the webcast.

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

president@piava.org

Posted in attorneys, crime, FBI, fraud, Investigations, law enforcement, lawyers, PIAVA, police, private detective, private investigations, private investigators, Public Records, Virginia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

FTC Workshop Agenda

Posted by Bill on December 11, 2007

FTC Panel FTC panel–Robert Townsend, NALI

Meesis FTC Jimmie Meesis, PI Magazine, PI Mag, at FTC Workshop.

 For those interested, here is the detailed FTC Workshop Agenda with panel members listed. FTC Agenda To view the agenda, click on the highlighted link and click second time on the “FTC Agenda” link on next page.

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

president@piava.org

Posted in attorneys, fraud, Investigations, lawyers, PIAVA, private detective, private investigations, private investigators, Public Records, Research, Virginia | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

FTC Realtime, part 2

Posted by Bill on December 10, 2007

The panel started at 1:45 p.m. with an introduction by Valerie Abend, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Critical Infrastructure Protection and Compliance Policy, U.S. Department of Treasury.  She explained the many needs and uses of the SSN by the Treasury Department, including the I.R.S.

The following is a summary:

Robert Ryan, VP, TransUnion, talked about TransUnion’s use of the SSN as an identifier in processing of millions of daily information reports received by credit bureaus.   SSN is important to ensure correct application of information.  The SSN is used for unique credit reports for millions of individuals.  The SSN is necessary to identify the credit report.  SSN is important when a person disputes some information in the credit report especially when the information is not accurate.  Use SSN to maintain accuracy of identifying the right person.  TransUnion has to comply with many State and Federal laws that require use of SSN to identify people.

Stan Szwalbnest, JP Morgan Chase said they use SSNs for identifying accounts, identifying individuals, reporting earnings to I.R.S., reporting to law enforcement, help identify business records in disasters and many other ways. 

Roberta Meyer, American Council of Life insurances:  Insurance companies use SSN for identifying life insurance applicants, making reports in compliance with laws.  SSNs are universal, unique and do not change over time.  This helps identify persons for life insurance policies going for many many years.  SSN necessary to accurately identify persons for reports.  There are many, many ways that companies use the SSN to identify people for all kinds of internal/external reports.  Many State and Federal laws require use of SSN for reporting purposes.  Tax departments require earnings report by SSN.  The Bank Secrecy Act and the Patriot Act require specific “know your customer” rules and procedures.  The SSN is vital to this procedure.  Insurance companies have to use SSNs to comply with federal law requirng that companies do not hire employees convicted of fraudulent activities.  Many state laws require use of SSN regarding property transactions, long term care partner programs, which was expanded by recent legislation.  All these situations require use of SSN to identify the person.  SSNs are needed to identify persons for medical records to get correct records.  SSNs are used to administer retirement/benefit plans.  There are many other reasons for using the SSNs legitimate business and consumer purposes.

Robert Townsend, licensed professional investigator over 40 years.  His comments are from his work as a day to day investigator.  SSN should be used under particular circumstances for legitimate reasons.  Why PI get the SSN?  Paid to get and link all information associated with the SSN.  Obtaining and linking SSNs is all done for money. Client paid for background information.  If you prosecute the violators, prosecute the original client paying for the investigation in addition to person illegal obtaining SSN.

Use SSN locate missing children.  SSN is unique personal identifier to distinguished one person from another.  Limit SSN information to licensed PIs with insurance.  PI need to identify the person being investigated.  Special Master System?  If there is a legal case being investigated by attorney or an investigator, he suggests a system where the investigator gets a the equivalent of a civil search warrant.  Judges would review applications for such a civil search warrant to determine if legitimate action.  If litigation goes further and more information is needed to determine assets, relatives, trace funds.  Should have judicial approve of this further investigation.

Michael Lamb, LexisNexis.  Unique identifiers, such as SSNs, are necessary to combat ID theft.  Data thieves have always existed and they steal other peoples identity.  Need to give tools, such as SSN,to combat ID theft.  LN has information needed to assist and help consumers to fight ID theft and get there ID back or keep safe.  Lexis helps firms meet legal obligations under the KYC and other laws.  Assist LE and other police help in crime.

SSN is the unique ID and will never change as person’s address, telephone etc will change.  Use partial SSNs?  Have over 15K variation of Will Johnson in the Lexis database.  Using the SSN last four digits, there are over 4k Will Johnson sharing the same last 4 digits.  If applying for credit or a job, you want data system and information to be accurate.  SSN identifier assists this.  Using partial number make information less accurate possibly.  Taking away full SSN, anti fraud programs will not work as well.  If take away use of full SSN, consumer may be negatively affected in financial and business matters.  SSN used to trace benefits for retirement, recover missing children, assist in crime fighting.  Do you want to have less chance of helping consumers in crime fighting and finding information.

Annie Anton, ThePrivacyPlace.org.  Right now personal information about you is being exchanged by many businesses and government agencies including law enforcement.  SSN is defacto National ID number.  Privacy concerns because use SSN as personal identifier and authenticator.  The SSN should not be used as authenticator.  

That’s it for today.

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

president@piava.org

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FTC Workshop Realtime

Posted by Bill on December 10, 2007

I am blogging from the FTC Conference Center in Washington, DC.  There are about 90 to 100 people attending.  There are still seats available.  So, if you are in  the area, come on down! I came in late, but here is some of the discussion:

SSN Display & Use as Internal Identifier 

Now a representative from Ernst & Young is explaining how companies or businesses can successfully remove SSNs from business records.  E&Y has a consulting service to assist businesses with this process.  They are emphasizing that companies establish a standard policy and train employees  about how to handle data.  In addition, SSNs should be removed from all documents.  Access to information should be limited to only those “with need to know.”  The major systems that need attention are time keeping, payroll systems, salary data and human resources.

E&Y discussed the ways SSNs are used by businesses to keep their records–employee identifier and database tracking.  Once reports are generated, however, hard copies or data files may spread beyond the original source.  Security must control access to the data containing SSN identifiers.

There is a discussion of what other unique identifiers can be used to identify a person.  Such things as place of birth, additional PIN number, mother’s maiden name etc.  Companies are adopting these measures, but it takes time. 

Lunch Break at 12:30 p.m.

I saw some well known PI people here today.  Jimmie Meesis, PI Magazine, PI Magazine,  Bruce Hulme, NCISS, NCISS, Larry Sabbeth, NCISS, Pat Clawson, famous MI PI and PIAVA member Nicole Bocra.  After lunch, the topic is “SSN Use to LInk Data Externally.”  The panel is Robert Ryan, VP, TransUnion, Stan Szwalbenest, JP Morgan Case Comsumer and Retail Franchise, Roberta Meyer, VP and Associate General Counsel, America Council of Life Insurances, Robert Townsend, National Association of Legal Investigators, Michael Lamb, VP and General Counsel, LexisNexis Risk & Informaion Analytics Group, and Annie Anton, Associate Professor of Software Engineering, NC State University.  Robert Townsend is a private investigator from Orange County, CA.

So long for now,

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

president@piava.org

Posted in attorneys, fraud, Investigations, lawyers, PIAVA, private detective, private investigations, private investigators, Public Records, Research, Virginia | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

FTC Today Washington DC

Posted by Bill on December 10, 2007

In previous post (November), I let you know that the FTC is having its Workshop on Social Security Numbers and Identity Theft.  Today the workshop begins. I hope to be there and, if connections are available, will blog from the meeting.  If you are in the DC Metro area, come to the workshop.  Details are below:

  Agenda

8:30 a.m. Registration

9 a.m. Welcome

9:30 a.m. Panal 1, How SSNs are Used to Commit ID Theft

The workshop ends at 5 p.m. today and resumes tomorrow at 8:15 a.m.

Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

December 10 & 11, 2007 

On December 10 and 11, 2007, the Federal Trade Commission will host a public workshop, “Security in Numbers: SSNs and ID Theft,” to explore the uses of Social Security numbers in the private sector and the role of SSNs in identity theft.  This workshop continues the work of the President’s Identity Theft Task Force, and, in particular, its recommendation to explore ways to reduce unnecessary uses of the SSN.  The workshop will provide a forum for public-sector, private-sector, and consumer representatives to discuss the various uses of SSNs by the private sector, the necessity of those uses, alternatives available, the challenges faced by the private sector in moving away from using SSNs, and how SSNs are obtained and used by identity thieves.  The workshop will be free and open to the public. 

Registration is FREE and details can be found at this link.

http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/workshops/ssn/index.shtml

Some individual, bussinesses and organizations sent comments to the FTC.  Check out here:

http://www.ftc.gov/os/comments/ssnprivatesector/index.shtm

Registration is free and can be found at this link:

http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/workshops/ssn/index.shtml.

It is important for private investigators to attend this conference, because the FTC is preparing to promulgate its
recommendations and policies concerning Social Security Number access by the private sector. Those recommendations will most likely have an impact on pending Congressional legislation.

Comments?

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Hey, What About SSNs? FTC SSN Workshop-December 10, 11, 2007

Posted by Bill on December 1, 2007

Is your Social Security Number (SSN) important to you?  The U.S. Government ID number was originally issued only for designating your social security benefits account.  In fact, the original law and regulations, 1936,  declared that the SSN was for the exclusive use of the Social Security system.  Well, now, that seems to have been expanded.  Every business, credit application, medical office, credit card companies, bank and, of course, the IRS want and need your SSN.  They cannot live without it.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is considering what to do about SSNs use by everyone in the world, and how to limit dissemination and, hopefully, misuse of the SSN for identity theft and more illegal use.  Information about the FTC workshop on this issue is below.  But,

For everything you want to know about your SSN, go to the Electronic Privacy Information Center’s (EPIC) website SSN Privacy Page at EPIC SSN page.

Yesterday, the FTC, Division of Privacy and Identity Protection,  issued a summary of information it has obtained in preparation for an upcoming FTC workshop on private-sector use of Social Security numbers (SSNs).  See report FTC SSN Report.

On December 10 and 11, 2007, the FTC will host a public workshop, “Security in Numbers: SSNs and ID Theft,”to explore the uses of Social Security numbers in the private sector and the role of SSNs in identity theft, see Workshop.  The FTC is exploring ways to reduce unnecessary uses of the SSN.  The workshop will provide a forum for public-sector, private-sector, and consumer representatives to discuss the various uses of SSNs by the private sector, the necessity of those uses, alternatives available, the challenges faced by the private sector in moving away from using SSNs, and how SSNs are obtained and used by identity thieves.  The workshop will be free and open to the public.

This workshop is free and open to the public, but space will be limited.  Pre-registration is not necessary to attend but is encouraged so that we may better plan this event.  Those pre-registering should send their name and affiliation to SSNpreregister@ftc.gov.  Pre-registration will not guarantee a seat at the event; seating will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.  The FTC will use pre-registration information to estimate how many people will attend and better understand the likely audience for the workshop. 

The workshop will be at FTC Conference Center, 601 New Jersey Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20001.

Go to the below links for all the information you want or need about the FTC and your SSN.

Workshop Information 

FTC SSN Report 

Draft Agenda

If you want to know what is going to happen about your SSN and how it will be used in the future, and how you want it to be used by “everyone in the world” attend this workshop.  Let the FTC know the importance of your SSN.

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

president@piava.org

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