Magazine article American Banker

Equifax Rival Demands Privacy Probe

Magazine article American Banker

Equifax Rival Demands Privacy Probe

Article excerpt

As it moves to spin off a recently acquired unit, Equifax Inc. is being entangled in a dispute over an alleged breach of privacy.

A shareholder is demanding that the board investigate whether the information services company knew or should have known about what he claims was misuse of voter registration data by CDB Infotek.

Atlanta-based Equifax acquired a 70% stake in the Santa Ana, Calif., company last August and plans to spin it off as soon as the Internal Revenue Service rules on a tax issue.

The shareholder making the accusation is John Aristotle Phillips, who owns Aristotle Publishing Inc., Washington. His company competes with Equifax as a supplier of voter registration data.

Mr. Phillips said the board should make a full disclosure to shareholders and government authorities.

His request, obtained by the American Banker, states that "when Equifax purchased its CDB interest, CDB's own sales literature advertised the sale of voter registration data from a number of states, including Georgia, for unlawful purposes."

Commercial use of voter registration information is a felony or misdemeanor in some states.

J. Blair Richardson, attorney for Aristotle Publishing, said the advertisements suggested using voter registration data for collecting bills.

"You have been placed on notice of the problems," Mr. Phillips' request tells board members, "and I believe these matters deserve investigation, regardless of who brought them to your attention."

"We have no response at all," said Equifax spokesman Norman Black when asked last week to comment on the shareholder request and related issues.

Equifax has stressed previously that it is not the target of Mr. Phillips, but rather that CDB is. Equifax also has said its data bases have been kept strictly separate from CDB's.

Equifax's "boilerplate responses" to the issues raised by Mr. …

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