NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) - New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo says he has protected the personal information of consumers around the country from being spread.
Cuomo came to a settlement Tuesday with online data broker USSearch.com, which he charged with illegally selling the private credit bureau data of thousands.
The company will pay $250,000 in penalties and court costs.
"Companies with access to a consumer's private information must do all they can to keep it private," Cuomo said. "With the crime of identity theft running rampant across the globe, it is critical that personal data, including sensitive credit bureau information, not be readily available to anyone with Internet access."
Cuomo says USSearch.com gathered information found in the public domain (i.e. court records) to others trying to locate individuals by alias and address history.
But for an additional fee, Cuomo says it would offer businesses non-public personal information from credit reporting agencies and financial institutions.
Alan Chapell, a spokesman for USSearch.com, told The Associated Press that all Cuomo's evidence was gathered before First Advantage Corp. sold the company to Cricket Operating Co., and that First Advantage paid the fine.
Cuomo says USSearch.com had illegally gathered private information more than 2,385 times.
The company must also make changes to its business practices. Under the terms of the settlement, US Search.com. Inc., will:
-Immediately suspend its illegal use of credit bureau data;
-Pay $250,000 in penalties, (approximately five times the amount it made from selling the illegally obtained information);
-Require 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; and
-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.
From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien via e-mail at email@example.com.