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 What is certain is that a large sum was withdrawn from his account by thieves relying on Wachovia and other banks, according to banking and court records.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.
May 21, 2007; 2:15 PM ET
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Posted by: sephyia | May 21, 2007 9:31 PM | Report abuse
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