Ramblings & ephemera

Debt collection business opens up huge security holes

From Mark Gibbs’ “Debt collectors mining your secrets” (Network World: 19 June 2008):

[Bud Hibbs, a consumer advocate] told me any debt collection company has access to an incredible amount of personal data from hundreds of possible sources and the motivation to mine it.

What intrigued me after talking with Hibbs was how the debt collection business works. It turns out pretty much anyone can set up a collections operation by buying a package of bad debts for around $40,000, hiring collectors who will work on commission, and applying for the appropriate city and state licenses. Once a company is set up it can buy access to Axciom and Experian and other databases and start hunting down defaulters.

So, here we have an entire industry dedicated to buying, selling and mining your personal data that has been derived from who knows where. Even better, because the large credit reporting companies use a lot of outsourcing for data entry, much of this data has probably been processed in India or Pakistan where, of course, the data security and integrity are guaranteed.

Hibbs points out that, with no prohibitions on sending data abroad and with the likes of, say, the Russian mafia being interested in the personal information, the probability of identity theft from these foreign data centers is enormous.

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