FTC Sues Sites Selling Phone Records


Five Internet sites selling confidential phone records became the target of
Federal Trade Commission (FTC) lawsuits Wednesday.


Seeking permanent injunctions to halt the sale of the phone records and
financial redress, the FTC contends the sites violate federal privacy laws.


The Telecommunications Act of 1996 states that customers’ phone records are
their private property and can only be disclosed to the customer or with the
approval of the customer.


“Trafficking in consumers’ confidential telephone records is outrageous,”
Lydia Parnes, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a
statement.


“It robs consumers of their privacy and exposes them to everything from snoops to stalkers. We intend to put a stop to it.”


Named in the suits are: 77 Investigations, Inc., and Reginald Kimbro, based
in Upland, Calif.; AccuSearch, Inc. (dba Abika.com), and Jay Patel, based in
Cheyenne, Wyoming; and CEO Group, Inc. (dba Check Em Out), and Scott Joseph,
based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.


Also named are: Information Search, Inc., and David Kacala, based in
Baltimore, Md.; and Integrity Security & Investigation Services, Inc.,
Edmund L. Edmister, Tracey Edmister, and F. Lynn Moseley, based in Yorktown,
Va.


According to the FTC, the defendants advertised on their sites they could
obtain the confidential phone records of any individual, including lists of
outgoing and incoming calls, and make that information available to their
clients for a fee.


“The account holders have not authorized the defendants to obtain access to
or sell their confidential customer phone records,” the FTC complaints
state.


Instead, the FTC claims the sites used false pretenses, fraudulent
statements and other misrepresentations to obtain the phone records.


The FTC complaints state that the defendants then sold the records to third
parties.


According to the FTC, one of the defendants, Integrity Security &
Investigations Services, also advertised, obtained and sold consumers’
financial records, including credit card information.


In February, the FTC told Congress it was investigating sites selling
confidential phone records by surfing the Web and identifying targets. The
FTC then made undercover purchases of phone records.


Congress has also been moving against the online brokers selling phone
records.


Last month, the House passed
legislation criminalizing the fraudulent sale or solicitation of
confidential phone records.


In March, the Senate Commerce Committee passed
legislation that makes it illegal to acquire, use or sell a person’s
confidential phone records without affirmative written consent.

News Around the Web