Experian Breach: Probe Into Compromised Social Security Info Expands

Wednesday, 09 Apr 2014 05:24 PM

By Jonna Lorenz

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After a security breach involving a subsidiary of Experian that exposed about 200 million Social Security numbers, Iowa and North Carolina are joining a multistate probe, Reuters reports.

Hieu Minh Ngo is expected to be sentenced in June in New Hampshire after admitting to orchestrating the breach.

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He admitted to using a false identity to open an account with Court Ventures, which was subsequently bought by credit bureau Experian, and conducting more than 3 million queries of a social security number database, Reuters reported. The data was obtained via Ohio-based U.S. Info Search.

The news service said that Iowa and North Carolina have joined Illinois and Connecticut and possibly other states in examining whether companies did enough to protect the private data, inform victims quickly, and help them prevent financial harm.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill told Reuters she is concerned that Experian said it would not be able to notify people whose Social Security numbers were compromised.

"It's troubling that Experian would wait three months after testifying, only to change their story, all while victims who had their identities stolen remain at risk as a result of this crime," McCaskill emailed Reuters.

Experian has said it is up to U.S. Info Search to notify victims of the breach, and U.S. Info Search has said it was Experian’s responsibility.

Ngo sold credit card data, social security numbers, and other personal information between 2007 and 2013, according to The Wall Street Journal.

He had access to private data for about 200 million Americans, but investigators don’t yet know how many people were affected.

Ngo posed as a private investigator from Singapore to gain access to the data, which he sold to more than 1,300 customers.

"It's scary," Eric Chiu, president of Mountain View security company HyTrust, told the San Jose Mercury News. "That could be information used to steal our identities or drain our bank accounts."

Target hired Experian to provide free credit monitoring services to its clients after a breach of 40 million credit card numbers in December.

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