- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 4, 2007

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A check-authorizing company said yesterday that credit, bank account and other personal information on 2.3 million consumers had been stolen, but none of the data was used for identity theft or other financial fraud.

The report from Fidelity National Information Services unit Certegy Check Services Inc. was the latest case of data theft that has alarmed corporations, the federal government and universities.

Court documents filed in a civil case in St. Petersburg say former employee, William G. Sullivan, sold the information to data broker Jam Marketing, which then sold it to several direct-marketing companies.

Certegy said the broker and the direct-marketing companies were not aware that the information had been stolen.

About 2.2 million records stolen from Certegy contained bank-account information and 99,000 had credit-card information.

As a result of this apparent theft, the consumers affected received marketing solicitations from the companies that bought the data, said Renz Nichols, president of the St. Petersburg company, which helps merchants decide whether to accept checks. We believe that is the extent of any damage to the public.

John Joyce, a spokesman for the U.S. Secret Service in Tampa, said, On the surface, it appears that way.

We are looking at what happened and assisting Certegy in determining if there are more layers to this, Mr. Joyce said. Once we have done a thorough investigation, we will determine what happened and what charges are appropriate.

Certegy will notify all affected consumers of the theft and has contacted major credit agencies as a precaution, Mr. Nichols said. It said it did not expect the theft to affect its earnings.

Certegy officials said they had contacted the data broker and the marketing companies and think they would be able to get the data back and prevent its future use. Certegy has asked a court in St. Petersburg to order the companies to do the same.

Listed phone numbers for Mr. Sullivan and Jam Marketing could not be located.

Mr. Sullivan, a senior level database administrator who had worked for the company for seven years, was fired.

Mr. Nichols characterized him as a rogue and dishonest employee. He said the company will seek civil penalties against the former worker and wants criminal charges filed against him.

Data theft has been a problem with several companies. TJX Cos., the operator of T.J. Maxx and Marshalls, disclosed in January that a data theft exposed 45 million credit and debit cards to potential fraud. In February 2006, Scott Levine of Boca Raton was sentenced to eight years in prison in a computer theft case involving more than 1 billion in records collected by data-management firm Acxiom Corp., a Little Rock, Ark., firm. In March 2005, the parent company of LexisNexis said hackers got access to personal information as many as 32,000 U.S. citizens in a database owned by LexisNexis.

Shares in Jacksonville company Fidelity National Services Inc. fell 8 cents to $54.70 yesterday on the New York Stock Exchange. Certegy has about 1,000 employees.

Fidelity National Services is not related to Fidelity Investments, the nation’s largest mutual fund company.

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