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Scammers Target Elderly With Aid of Data Brokers

Consumer data broker infoUSA reaped huge profits selling lists with the names of elderly individuals and others likely to be easy targets for identity thieves and con artists, according to a harrowing story in Sunday's New York Times.

The newspaper reports: "InfoUSA advertised lists of 'Elderly Opportunity Seekers,' 3.3 million older people 'looking for ways to make money,' and 'Suffering Seniors,' 4.7 million people with cancer or Alzheimer's disease. 'Oldies but Goodies' contained 500,000 gamblers over 55 years old, for 8.5 cents apiece. One list said: 'These people are gullible. They want to believe that their luck can change.'"

The Times piece details the story of Richard Guthrie, a 92-year-old Iowa veteran whose name ended up in infoUSA's database because he filled out multiple sweepstakes entries.

"InfoUSA sold his name, and data on scores of other elderly Americans, to known lawbreakers, regulators say. What is certain is that a large sum was withdrawn from his account by thieves relying on Wachovia and other banks, according to banking and court records. Though 20 percent of the total amount stolen was recovered, investigators say the rest has gone to schemes too complicated to untangle."

Stories like these have a tendency to incite lawmakers into action. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has sponsored legislation that would force data brokers to open their database to consumers. That bill is sure to receive renewed attention following these revelations. In the House, Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) today sent a letter
to the chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, demanding to know when the agency was made aware of the allegations in the Times story.

Read the full Times story here.

By Brian Krebs  |  May 21, 2007; 2:15 PM ET
Categories:  Fraud , From the Bunker , Latest Warnings , Safety Tips  
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I am so sick of people trying to rip people off, especially us senior citisens.I myself have these messages coming in from over seas to tell me they will pay me to rip off people. Makes me sick. I love the internet. It brought so much closeness to us that struggle every day just to survive. Yes we can get more of what we need but there are so many scams that the common person is bound to get ripped off. In our own country alone i myself have identfied a few as close as 6 miles from me begging for help but i did trip them up and i will report scams or whatever i can find to whoever it should go to. We deserve our freedom and peace as we all worked for it. Maybe i go back to the old school. Put me back into the 1800s and see where the trust was a handshake and no matter what everyone was there to help your neighbor as it should be. we came into the world with only our parents to watch over us and treat us as needed. Today we do not even do that. Our chiddren are spoiled by all that we give and spend so much time doing nothing using their minds that even our education system is crumbling. Greed and an easy way out provides our future to be what our forefathers could of never dreamed about. We the people have to make the choices and work together to give us what this great country was desined to be. It takes more then 1 to run a country. and more then 1 to put that person there. What happened to WE the people. Protect our future and our children as they are our future. Extend the hand of friendship to all and help wherever is needed. Save all people of every race . We are all the same when you remove our skin. Take care of your neighbor, he may be the person you will depend on the rest of our lives. Our world gets smaller everyday. Chances are we will cross paths again. What goes around comes around and it all comes out in the wash. God Bless America and the Great State of Minnesota

Posted by: sephyia | May 21, 2007 9:31 PM | Report abuse

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