On October 5, an Internet business that advertised and sold consumers’ phone records and records of credit card accounts to third parties agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it violated federal law. The settlement bars the defendants from obtaining or selling consumers’ confidential phone and credit account records unless authorized by law or court order’ and requires that they give up the money they made selling phone records in the past.
In May 2006, the FTC filed federal court complaints charging five Web-based operations that obtained and sold consumers’ confidential telephone records to third parties with violating federal law. The FTC’s complaint against Integrity Security & Investigation Services and its principal, Edmund Edmister, also alleged that the company obtained and sold consumers’ credit card purchasing information. The agency asked the courts to order a permanent halt to the sale of the phone records, and asked the courts to order the operators to give up the money they made through their illegal operations. The settlement announced with ISIS and its principal ends the litigation with those defendants. The four other cases are still in litigation.
The settlement bars the defendants from obtaining or selling consumers’ phone records or personal information unless authorized by law or court order. It bars them from pretexting – obtaining records using false pretenses – or hiring others who pretext to obtain phone or financial records. Under the terms of the settlement, the defendants will give up $2,700 in ill-gotten gains – the entire amount they earned from selling the phone records and credit card transaction reports. The settlement also contains standard record keeping provisions to allow the FTC to monitor compliance with its order.