FTC launches redress program for ChoicePoint identity theft victims

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The Federal Trade Commission has mailed claims forms for reimbursement to more than 1,400 identity theft victims who experienced out-of-pocket expenses due to alleged security lapses at data broker ChoicePoint Inc.

Last year, ChoicePoint, an Alpharetta, GA-based company that compiles and sells personal information, announced that it had sold information about many consumers to people who turned out to be identity thieves. The FTC investigated the security breach and alleged that, in some cases, these sales resulted in identity theft. The FTC and ChoicePoint reached a settlement requiring the company, among other things, to pay $5 million to be used to reimburse consumers for expenses due to identity theft caused by ChoicePoint's security breach.

"While we do not know the details of the FTC communication with consumers potentially impacted by our early 2005 incident, we are pleased they are moving forward and stand ready to help the Commission in any way we can," said Matt Furman, a ChoicePoint spokesman. "From the outset, ChoicePoint has been committed to providing consumers with appropriate relief, including free credit monitoring and ID theft insurance; hands-on consumer assistance enabled by our support of the Identity Theft Resource Center; and, making significant changes to our credentialing, privacy and security practices."

The victims, who were identified with the assistance of law enforcement, should receive the claims form with instructions on how to file a claim. The FTC also has created a Web site at www.ftc.gov/choicepoint, where consumers who do not receive a letter can download a claims form and obtain information about the claims process.

Consumers who receive a letter and have out-of-pocket expenses due to identity theft caused by the ChoicePoint security breach should submit claims promptly. Consumers who do not receive a letter, but who believe that they have identity theft-related expenses due to this incident, also may submit a claim by completing the form available on the FTC's Web site or calling 1-888-884-8772.

The form must be postmarked by Feb. 4 for consideration. The amount applicants receive will depend on a number of factors, including the total number and amount of claims that the agency receives.

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