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Debt brokers expose sensitive financial info

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Companies have left people’s sensitive personal and financial information in all the wrong places — in dumpsters, on car seats, and even in employees’ backpacks.

Now, the FTC has sued two debt sellers for posting spreadsheets with the sensitive information of more than 70,000 people on a public website, making it — along with information about a debt they might owe — available to anyone who happened on the site.

The companies involved were debt brokers. Instead of collecting debts, debt brokers sell information about people who might owe money on a debt to interested debt collectors. Typically, when selling debt, a broker will give potential buyers general information about the debts they’re selling and the people who allegedly owe the debts.

But the information these companies posted was anything but general: it included people’s bank account and credit card numbers, dates of birth, contact information, employers’ names, and the amount of money a person might owe. Besides violating people’s privacy, the FTC says, posting this information publicly put people at risk of having their identities stolen or being targeted by scammers pretending to be debt collectors.

These cases and several others the FTC has brought recently make one thing very clear: businesses that hold people’s personal financial information are required by law to protect the information and keep it secure. The companies involved will be contacting people whose information was disclosed.

You don’t always know when your information has been wrongfully exposed, but here are steps you can take when you do:

  1. Place a fraud alert on your credit file and get your free credit reports. A fraud alert tells creditors to contact you before they open new accounts or change your current account. Your credit reports can show you if someone has tried to open accounts or create debts in your name. 
  1. If you find suspicious activity, follow the FTC’s step-by-step guidance for dealing with identity theft.
  1.  If a debt collector contacts you about a debt you believe is the result of identity theft, dispute the debt.
  1. Before paying a debt, take steps to verify that the debt collector is legitimate, and know your rights under the law. Never give out or confirm financial information or other sensitive data to someone who contacts you. Fake debt collectors may already have sensitive data about you that they may try to use to trick you into revealing more information. 

For more on your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and how to recognize debt-related scams and frauds, visit the FTC’s Dealing with Debt page.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit


From the original article, "...the defendants violated the FTC Act by unfairly exposing consumers’ personal information without their knowledge or consent." Why were the "defendants" not arrested rather than sued by the FTC, first of all? Secondly, how is this not exploitation by the FTC for financial gain? Is the FTC going to split the money up among the consumers whose information was exposed?

2010 a brokerage co called me on a 2004 MCI bill, I keep a file of all disputes. I pulled it right out and told the the persons name and phone/ext and that the $3432 over charge would be written off. 6 years later some bottom feeder who got ripped off pay pennies on the dollar for the info. He threatened to come to my house to collect plus many other threats, I said....well I can't say here, hung up and never heard again, all that for a $34 bill that was settled. Always keep any disputes no matter who sent it or ok'd it by phone, get name, # and employee ID#. You'll save yourself a hassle that will bound to happen.

I payed 2,000 to this company that stated that I owed on an old loan and they would issue a warrant for my arrest if I didn't pay them that day I wasent sure about it so I borrowed the money from my son they have called me six months after this reporting the same thing and they stated that there were other lawyers who had charged me in the same case and I had to pay them to I said I wasn't going to do it and I told them to go ahead and issue the warrant. I have not heard from them since. I could call a friend who was a police officer and he told me it was a scam and I should Google them and it lead me to this website

I have been robbed by Corporations for years through just the " Banking System ", now to finish hiding the treachery of " Surrogate Management " or just arrogant College Graduate Businessmen(Gals Too) now I know (for a long time!) how my personal information was just Auctioned or now WAIT!, just given to someone else cause they paid for it with out my approval or knowledge sounds like anything after 1980

Thank you any help would be greatly appreciate thank you!

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