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Victims of ChoicePoint data breach didn't take advantage of free offers

Panel of industry, government leaders discuss finding better ways to protect personal data and notify consumers

By , Network World
April 10, 2007 09:59 AM ET

Network World - When ChoicePoint became one of the first companies to admit to a high-profile data breach involving sensitive consumer information, the company offered 163,000 affected individuals free credit monitoring, credit reports and identity-theft insurance.

Barely anyone took the company up on its offer.

“We put out a 1-800 number, all this free stuff that people pay a lot of money to get . . . and fewer than 10% of the people we sent notices to ever called us, ever asked us for any of the free services,” Robert Kamerschen, ChoicePoint’s vice president of law and public policy, said Monday during a panel discussion on cybersecurity and consumer data in Boston. “People debated why this is, and I’m not sure I know what the answer is.”

The American public may be so jaded that people simply throw mail in the trash when it comes from organizations they’ve never heard of, Kamerschen suggested. Monday's discussion, hosted by O’Neill and Associates, focused partly on the issue of how consumers should be notified of data breaches in the context of state laws that are popping up around the country.

ChoicePoint, which provides information to the home and auto industries and performs background checks for about half of the companies on the Fortune 500, is one of many firms forced to apologize after data breaches that have exposed more than 150 million records containing personal information since 2005. In the ChoicePoint case, the records of 163,000 consumers were compromised after criminals pretending to be legitimate ChoicePoint customers sought details about individuals listed in the company’s database of personal information.

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