About two years ago, I uncovered this scoop about a company called Choicepoint and have been following it ever since. Since I am new to Helium, I will be publishing my findings quite frequently to all of you, even though the date of the evidence supporting my claims may be a little dated.
IN the tax improvement dept., our old friend the IRS has selected a company to protect America’s taxpayers’ data. This company is called ChoicePoint, Inc.
Sounds normal, right?
Well, ladies and gentlemen, there are many skeletons in ChoicePoint’s closet.
ChoicePoint is a company that actually runs on the business of collecting and selling consumer data – addresses, birth dates, phone numbers, and even more precious information that some of us don’t want to give out willingly. Choicepoint sells this consumer data only to insurance companies.
BUT…earlier in 2005 ChoicePoint had a little problem: they “accidentally” sold sensitive consumer data to identity thieves posing as insurance companies, which was a MAJOR breach of security.
And now our government has awarded them with a solid contract with the IRS to protect data. The IRS has not released an explanation as to why they chose ChoicePoint as of yet – and ChoicePoint insists that they will not have access to sensitive consumer data, that protection is “an automated process”.
Congressman Ed Markie doesn’t trust them. He sent a letter to the IRS inquiring about the ludicrous choice of the company; no response as of yet.
Frankly, I think this is a fraudulent choice of company by the IRS. Many Americans feel anger towards them for the taxes they hold us accountable for; now, they are losing our trust. What’s next for the Internal Revenue Service? Privatization?
-Now, the update…
According to the AP, the IRS, suddenly waking up from being comatose, has ordered a review of the $20 million contract awarded to ChoicePoint Inc., a data broker under fire for a security breach that let criminals gain access to its database of personal information.
IRS Commissioner Mark Everson ordered the security review of the five-year contract to make sure it will not endanger taxpayer confidentiality, the agency said in a statement. The IRS said it had no security problems during a previous five-year contract with the company.
The arrangement allows IRS auditors and criminal investigators to use ChoicePoint’s databases to locate assets owned by delinquent taxpayers. It’s part of an IRS effort to close a more than $300 billion gap between taxes owed and taxes paid.
ChoicePoint would be given names, addresses and Social Security numbers for data searches. Their employees would be bound by the same federal privacy laws and regulations governing IRS employees.
A few lawmakers criticized the IRS contract decision.
“It is especially galling right now to be rewarding firms that have been so careless with the public’s confidential information,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.
Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., said the IRS should build its own data capabilities so it doesn’t have to rely on data brokers.
Honestly, this looks to be the cheapest way for the government to “safeguard” the IRS, and they got caught. ChoicePoint was probably the lowest in cost, and the government bought it.
So, for all of you that despise the Internal Revenue Service, this is just another valid reason that you can add to the top of your list.
Also, since the consumer data is vulnerable to identity theft, and the consumers can do nothing to stop corporations like this one, maybe it should change it’s name to “No ChoicePoint.” (Schneier.com)
It’s really bad when you do your best to protect your good name, and along comes a company that screws up and then doesn’t have to pay for what they did.
Unless the people and the IRS comes to their senses soon about this issu identity theft will become an ever-increasing epidemic.