FTC Files Complaint Against Information Broker

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The Federal Trade Commission filed a compliant against Touch Tone Information Inc., Denver, yesterday, alleging that the information broker illegally obtained and sold consumers' personal financial data. The FTC claims that TTI obtained personal information under false pretenses by calling banks and impersonating account holders. Information obtained in this manner was then posted for sale at TTI's web site (www.pidirectory.com/touchtone), according to the FTC.

Attempts to reach TTI were unsuccessful.

The FTC said the case marks the first federal action against an information brokerage agency engaged in such practices, known as "pretexting." The FTC voted to authorize the complaint by a 3-to-1 majority, with Commissioner Orson Swindle dissenting on the basis that the case did not violate the federal standard for deception or unfairness, in part because it did not contain allegations of economic or other harm. He added that the case could represent "a foray into broader privacy regulation."

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