Recently, the FTC announced a settlement in its complaint against the data broker ChoicePoint for a data security breach that resulted in over 160,000 people’s personal information being sold to identity thieves. According to the Washington Post:
The Chicago Sun Times reports:
The Chicago Police Department is warning officers their cell phone records are available to anyone — for a price. Dozens of online services are selling lists of cell phone calls, raising security concerns among law enforcement and privacy experts. . . .
To test the service, the FBI paid Locatecell.com $160 to buy the records for an agent’s cell phone and received the list within three hours, the police bulletin said. . . .
How well do the services work? The Chicago Sun-Times paid $110 to Locatecell.com to purchase a one-month record of calls for this reporter’s company cell phone. It was as simple as e-mailing the telephone number to the service along with a credit card number. . . .
On Tuesday, when it reopened, Locatecell.com e-mailed a list of 78 telephone numbers this reporter called on his cell phone between Nov. 19 and Dec. 17. The list included calls to law enforcement sources, story subjects and other Sun-Times reporters and editors.
Suppose a company engages in an unfair and deceptive trade practice. It makes about $1 billion. The FTC investigates. A settlement is reached for a fine of $1 million and refunds to only some customers — yielding a net penalty of several million dollars — just a fraction of the spoils. That’s deterrence . . . FTC style!
Under the federal Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003, the credit reporting agencies must provide a yearly free credit report to individuals who request it. This was one of the benefits given to consumers by the law in return for extending the federal preemption of certain state law regulations.