On Tuesday, the state of California sued Data Trace USA, an online cell phone record provider, for $10 million, Reuters reports via MSNBC.com.
Florida-based Data Trace USA offers a 24-hour cell phone number retrieval service for $79.99, and it requires the cell holder’s Social Security number, address and full name, according to Reuters.
The San Diego Superior Court suit claims Data Trace USA representatives illegally procured phone records by misrepresenting their intentions to phone companies to trick them into disclosing sensitive information, Reuters reports. The lawsuit seeks to halt this practice, commonly known as “pretexting,” according to Reuters.
“Defendants then deceptively obtain consumer account information by various means, including misrepresenting themselves to the consumer’s telecommunications carrier as an agent of the consumer, as someone calling on the consumer’s behalf or at times even as the consumer,” the court filing reads, according to Reuters.
Last month, the state of Missouri filed a lawsuit against Data Trace USA as well, Reuters reports.
“Data Trace has used fraudulent means to commit outrageous invasions of privacy against California cell phone users,” California Attorney General Bill Lockyer told Reuters. “Unfortunately, this company is not alone. These shady operators are increasing in number.”
Data Trace USA did not respond to Reuters’ attempts to contact it; however, its website reads, “We conduct our searches using well-known private investigative techniques that are available to licensed private investigators only,” according to Reuters.
A number of highly publicized court cases over the past few months have raised awareness of the issue and led lawmakers to draft legislation addressing it. For background, check out Wireless Data Brokers Sued by Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile Aims to Stop Call-Record Sales.
For related news coverage, read Congress Targets Phone-Record Peddlers, Cell Record Peddling Websites Shut Down and House Panel Demands Info From Data Brokers.
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