Magazine article American Banker

Credit Bureaus Step Up Their Efforts against Data Fraud

Magazine article American Banker

Credit Bureaus Step Up Their Efforts against Data Fraud

Article excerpt

The competing credit reporting companies are rallying to cooperate on a host of measures aimed at keeping their information secure from fraud.

Incidents like last week's Autoland scandal in New Jersey have heightened concerns about the security of the financial histories kept by the major credit bureaus.

Fifteen of the Newark auto dealer's employees were arrested for illegally accessing the credit reports of hundreds of people nationwide - most if not all of whom had never even visited Autoland - and using that information fraudulently to gain cash and credit lines.

Secret Service Role

U.S. Secret Service officials are still trying to sort out how many millions of dollars were stolen in the scam.

The largest credit bureaus - Equifax, Trans Union, , and TRW - had been well aware of fraud possibilities long before the Autoland problem came to light in a sting operation, and started taking cooperative steps about six months ago.

Under the auspices of their umbrella group, Associated Credit Bureaus, they organized a security and fraud task force in June to explore new measures to combat the problem.

The group, comprised of representatives from the three companies and their affiliates as well as a liaison from Associated Credit Bureaus, has been looking toward defining standards and practices to unify and protect information security.

The credit bureaus have already started to implement one of their decisions - to suppress account numbers from more "vulnerable" credit grantors, such as auto dealers.

Dealers tend to be vulnerable to the illegitimate use of credit reports because of their high turnover of employees, said Janis Lamar, director of external communications for TRW. And because most dealers get involved in applications for credit, they seem to give many people access to buyers' personal data.

Autoland Takes Action

In the case of Autoland, 15 employees had access to credit reports - a number that has been reduced to two since the incident. …

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