Arrested Due To A Database Error

from the doesn't-sound-like-fun dept

Well, here's a story that combines a few different things we've seen lately, from police (and star basketball players) raiding the home of the wrong person due to a faulty IP address to the fact that all these big data mining companies often have wrong info about you, including incorrect criminal records. In this case, a guy who got a job as a security guard as a retailer ended up spending a week in jail after the company did a background check on him and data mining firm Choicepoint (whose name became well known when they sold info to a group of identity theft scammers) incorrectly found that there were arrest warrants out for this guy for child molestation and rape. The problem was that the guy had been a victim of identity theft earlier, and while he had reported it, Choicepoint didn't take that into account. It's somewhat amusing (if disturbing) that a firm that had sold data to identity thieves later was unable to fix the false data in someone's file that was due to identity theft. Still, at what point do people realize that a single piece of data from these unreliable sources just isn't enough to arrest someone? Update: A Choicepoint employee in the comments points out that this happened a few years ago, and that Choicepoint was fine over it. He then accuses us of making the same mistake as Choicepoint in not following up to get the latest details. Of course, there's a bit of difference. No one went to jail when our story was a bit out of date.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Shrikant Joshi, Oct 30th, 2006 @ 3:17am

    Has all the makings of a Hollywood ( or Bollywood,

    I think Johnny Depp would do a good job. What say?

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    ScaredOfTheMan, Oct 30th, 2006 @ 3:33am

    Just tell me why he can't sue? Someone please explain to me, why the victim of Identity Theft, or Incorrect info cannot sue this company (for negligence or slander or something)?

    I recalled reading the fact the identity theft victims were not able to sue, since they had no direct contract or relationship with the Data collection agency.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    ThePengwin, Oct 30th, 2006 @ 3:59am

    Re:

    Sounds like a monopoly Chance card

    Database error in your name, colect as much as you can :P

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Search Engines WEB, Oct 30th, 2006 @ 4:49am

    Did He Sue Choicepoint

    http://www.baselinemag.com/article2/0,1540,1825287,00.asp

    The incident with the Security Guard was in the Spring of 2005 - it would be interesting to see if he won any damages

    unfortunately, fear of lawsuits can sometimes be the only motivating factor for companies to clean up their acts

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Rich, Oct 30th, 2006 @ 5:04am

    Just goes to show, cops are lazy. Too lazy to get off their duffs and do their own check to verify facts.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    CP Employee, Oct 30th, 2006 @ 5:13am

    Re: Did He Sue Choicepoint

    Yes, I'm biased. Yes, you probably hate the company I work for. Yes, they screwed up big-time.....almost a year and a half ago and have paid for it. There was the public cost in the FTC fine, and the non-obvious cost in outlays to comply with the rest of the FTC order as well as the internal changes that have taken place to go above and beyond said order.

    Given that this "story" is focusing on an event over a year old (see link above), aren't you just doing the same thing CP did by not following up?

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Nobody Special, Oct 30th, 2006 @ 5:20am

    a simple fix

    The simple fix would be to codify something to the tune of a $!0,000 fine for each error, plus damages.

    As to the comment about not following up - what did CP do to fix the problem? Do they have a time machine to travel back and make it right? You can't fix the fact the guy spent a weekend in jail.

    We are assuming that the error had been fixed in the database police use as well. If not, then the department that left his name there should be on the proverbial hook as well. Though honestly, I think that the department detaining him over a weekend should have some liability here as well.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    gr, Oct 30th, 2006 @ 5:24am

    Sue?

    CP Employee: What are the details of the FTC action?

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Mike, Oct 30th, 2006 @ 5:28am

    Re: Re: Did He Sue Choicepoint

    Yes and this kind of negligence is not just a "mistake" it destroyed the guys life, and your company should be forced to close, as it obviously cannot be trusted with anyones information, the fact that it was a year and a half ago is irrelevant, just more proof that citizens have far less rights in the US than companies do, and democracy has been dead for years. Might as well move to China.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Tack, Oct 30th, 2006 @ 5:39am

    The lion's den

    Mr. CP Employee,

    The story of Daniel and the Lions Den only worked due to two things:
    1) He wasn't given a choice before being thrown into the den. (God doesn't intervene and save your rear if you're just trying to be a hero.)
    2) He didn't get eaten. (Otherwise, the story probably wouldn't be in the bible at the least.)

    Your problem sir is that - regardless of the age of this story - you have voluntarily jumped into the lion's den. Should you now be eaten alive, where should we send your old IP address?

    To be honest, I don't believe anything I read online anyway, and typically I give more weight to stories which themselves say "this story may be false and totally incorrect, but as we understand it..." so I myself would never trust your site, even if it had not had these issues. I mean, we're talking about a person's entire life. Did it ever occour to you that maybe this security guard got the job he has because he's trying to do something for the greater good after falling victim to Identity Theft himself? Did it occour to you that maybe that entire spirit of "I can't fix my problem, but I can keep others from having it!" might be the sole reason this man got a job as a security guard? Perhaps this person might have a terrible mental relapse of some kind now. I mean, if he hasn't sued you, he certainly should. Yes, I'm biased due to my own mother being a lawyer, and that may make them hate me or my mother (sorry, I don't work for her, so I can't match your line exactly) but I can tell you that it's a good thing she does corperate law and that this stuff didn't occour in Alabama 5 years ago, or else somebody in the state senate (likely on your company's payroll) would need to introduce some new lawsuit caps.

    Insult to injury? Nah, I think more like rubbing the insult in the poor man's face before injuring him then sticking the insult in the fresh wound.

    In any case, give Techdirt a year to follow up on the story. It took them a year to publish it, so give them a year to correct it. After all, nobody would expect your company to correct something in less than a year after you got it wrong, now would they?

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    malhombre, Oct 30th, 2006 @ 6:39am

    ChoiceCops

    CP can KMA, but I would sue the hell out of whatever keystone cop outfit falsely arrested me on that slim of a basis. And if I lost I would just appeal, appeal, appeal...
    Then, I might take my new winnings and sue CP just for gravy.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    John S, Oct 30th, 2006 @ 6:58am

    Can't sue the datbase companies

    Aren't they responsible for the accuracy of their product? Wouldn't fall under some sort of faulty product law. Or is the data sold with a disclaimer that says it could be incorrect. If that is the case then how can the data ever be used to do background check and imprison people?

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Oliver, Oct 30th, 2006 @ 7:16am

    The People

    “The people shouldn’t be afraid of the government, the government should be afraid of its people”

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Trouble Maker, Oct 30th, 2006 @ 7:47am

    two cents worth

    If an arrest is culminated due to the information that is provided by a database and the information is incorrect, two actions should take place; first the Law Enforcement Agency that acted on the information without verification with another source is just as guilty as a company that maintains a database that contains incorrect data. Second; the company that maintains the data has to be held responsible for the information they maintain.

    It is a matter of libel. Just as the National Tabloids are accountable for the UN-truths that they perpetuate, and this holds true for you and I, so they must be held accountable for their actions.

    Imagine a Bank not being held responsible for the account database.

    Or your phone company, not being held responsible for their data bases and just charging customers whatever they feel like it.

    Yet, when a SPAM company in Illinois gets pissed off at a Spam Shield reporting company in the UK can be sued for the data in their database, then we have to hold everyone accountable.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    anna, Oct 30th, 2006 @ 8:08am

    Good thing he didn't get sent to LA Jail

    If the guy had been sent to LA County Jail, chances are he would have ended up dead. The worst thing that can happen to a man is to be charged and jailed on a charge of rape or child molestation, because inmates have their own code of moral conduct. F--- Choicepoint. They've ruin people's lives with their greed and incompetence.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    CP Employee, Oct 30th, 2006 @ 9:00am

    Re: Re: Re: Did He Sue Choicepoint

    Close down the company and put over 4000 people out of work because of an admittedly large mistake? Heck, even call it a series of mistakes. Does that still mean that a greater number of people should lose their jobs than were actually affected by the mistake?

    Should we shut down AOL because they released search information that allowed individuals to be identified and tracked down? Since how long ago something happened is irrelevant, should we shut down McNeil Pharmaceuticals because they didn't have good enough security in place to prevent someone from adding Cyanide to Tylenol resulting in consumer deaths? Since you seem determined to shut down a company when one person's life is "destroyed", how about every company who unjustly or illegally fires an employee. How about every company that fails to protect it's employees from harassment? The list of examples is near infinite.

    You say that Mr. Calderon's life was destroyed, but when did that actually occur? In searching for additional information to see something other than "spent a week in jail", I found this article at eWeek: Garbage In, Garbage Out of Control

    According to that one, the week in jail was back in January of 2002. Now we're talking about an incident over four and a half years ago. At what point do we stop just blindly accepting what is posted on the 'Net as fact and actually doing some research? In my searching, I never did see any follow-up on Mr. Calderon. What happened after the week in jail? Is he currently employed? Did he sue CP? Like I said before - how about a little follow-up?

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Bart, Oct 30th, 2006 @ 9:02am

    Re: Has all the makings of a Hollywood ( or Bollyw

    Been done. Brazil

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    CP Employee, Oct 30th, 2006 @ 9:14am

    Re: The lion's den

    Actually, I guess I should give them four and a half years to follow up. See my reply above.

    As for the lion's den, I expected that. I get this sort of reaction frequently. I take solace in the fact that I was not an employee until after even the aticle linked in this thread and was not part of the problem. I do what I can to point out where problems can arise and even though I just work at a subsidiary, do what I can to make things better.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    CP Employee, Oct 30th, 2006 @ 9:28am

    Re: two cents worth

    Actually, this is a well thought out argument and, to be honest, I agree. If a company libels you (even if I do work for them), they should be accountable just as John Q. Public could be held accountable. The drawback is that chances are high-priced lawyers have to get involved. For his sake, I hope Mr. Calderon found a contingency lawyer to represent him if he did decide to go this route.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    u no, Oct 30th, 2006 @ 9:37am

    AOL

    to the CP employee, give it a little more time and AOL will be gone. they haven't changed much with the times so not many people still use them.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased), Oct 30th, 2006 @ 9:50am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Did He Sue Choicepoint

    4000 employees who's work is flawed and irrelevent really need to lose their jobs. Goodbye most jobs in the country!

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    balek, Oct 30th, 2006 @ 10:24am

    dig a little

    Did a small bit of googling and found this: Calderon filed suit against Fry's over the incident. He was in the awkward position of having to prove he was a different Steve Calderon than the one who fellow employees said, according to court documents, had committed rape and child molestation.

    Fry's and Calderon settled. But has the judge or any lawyer tried to protect this Calderon from the eyes of the "other" Calderon? Or prevent reuse of his personal information by anyone else?

    No. Quite the contrary. On file, open to the public, is Calderon's California driver's license, Social Security card and a cancelled check, with the routing code for drawing money out of his bank account

    See for yourself: http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_zdbln/is_200506/ai_n13640138

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    CP Employee, Oct 30th, 2006 @ 10:45am

    Since I'm in the update...

    Before I get mis-quoted some more let me state some points here:

    - I was not an employee of CP prior to the admission of the data breach
    - I am not an official representative for the company
    - I AM a little dismayed to see people focus on the past rather than the present, but understand that this is a sensitive area
    - I comment when I see statements or comments that imply to me that someone has not thought the issue through and is only reacting to part of the story
    - Am willing to take whatever flaming I will get as a result of my employment as long as people are willing to accept that there are always multiple sides to a story - something I see forgotten a lot when dealing with sensitive issues

    All that being said, I feel that CP has come a long way since early 2005. For those asking about the details of the FTC order, check the FTC site. I don't know if I'm allowed to talk about the details or not, so I err on the side of job preservation... :-)

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Smacky Mouse, Oct 30th, 2006 @ 11:09am

    Re: Re: Did He Sue Choicepoint

    You seem a little defensive. Funny how people who work for slimy companies always seem a little defensive. Wake up, and find employment that doesn't pollute your soul.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    ???, Oct 30th, 2006 @ 12:51pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Did He Sue Choicepoint

    OMG.

    Do you seriously think 4000 people's jobs are worth being thrown in prison, marked as a child molester and very likely made someone's bi-atch?

    I don't necessarily agree that the business should be closed, bu that statement blows my mind.

    You, sir, have placed far too little value on the dignity of the Human Being.

    Sure, 4,000 folks without jobs sucks. At least they can get new jobs. Kinda hard to do that bent over Bubba in prison, eh?

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    sezlez, Oct 30th, 2006 @ 12:53pm

    Re:- Since I'm in the update

    Can't believe that CP Employee is actually an employee. Must be someone winding everybody up. How the hell can anyone try and defend such actions ? As said before, the company should be heavily fined, and the guy heavily compensated.

     

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  27.  
    icon
    chris (profile), Oct 30th, 2006 @ 1:13pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Did He Sue Choicepoint

    Since you seem determined to shut down a company when one person's life is "destroyed", how about every company who unjustly or illegally fires an employee. How about every company that fails to protect it's employees from harassment?

    it's been a few years since the dot com crash, so my experience may be a little out of date, but when i was laid off there was very little chance of getting raped and/or shanked in the unemployment line. being an accused child molestor in prison is another issue.

    tell you what, spend the night in a minimum security lockup and tell me if your life will still be the same.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    aprpeh, Oct 30th, 2006 @ 1:15pm

    choicepoint

    your Choicepoint files are available through FCRA consumer disclosure. you can find out how to get them here

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    CP Employee, Oct 30th, 2006 @ 2:55pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Did He Sue Choicepoint

    Funny, I had a pretty bad experience when I was laid off in 2001

    - Lost my car
    - Lost my house
    - Had no medical coverage and couldn't go to the doctor when I got the flu (no free clinics in the area)
    - Lost 50 lbs due to not enough money for food (20 lbs UNDERweight)
    - Almost lost my wife and kids

    In a way, CP saved my life by offering me a nice job in an area where I could do the work. Yes, they took a chance on me as I was a credit risk, but I had the skills they needed at the time and have proven myself a valuable employee. So, yes, I didn't get a shiv in the back or make any nice friends in the shower, but I wouldn't exactly call unemployment a walk in the park.

    It's easy for any of us to say "It was only a week" or "Just get a new job", but until you actually walk a mile in someone else's shoes, you really have no idea how bad it could be. Could CP have had better policies and procedures in place 4 1/2 years ago when this happened? Yes. Could the police department that did the arresting have done a better job of checking their facts? Yes. Could Fry's have done a better job of handling the results of the background check? Yes.

    Also, please don't confuse what I post as a complete defense for the company. I agree with the fact that they passed on incorrect information. However, does anyone have any idea where they GOT that information? Maybe the source is the problem. How about the police department that arrested Mr. Calderon? Did they bother to check his story? It would be nice to have many more facts than just the ones that make for a good story.

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    EdB, Oct 30th, 2006 @ 3:46pm

    Re: Did He Sue Choicepoint

    3 years out of work. No prison time. Your company sucks and should have been shut down. Since that didn't happen each and every victim of your company should be able to collect for damages. Not sue because fault has already been shown - just collect.

    For defending your company YOU should be shot.

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Nobody Special, Oct 30th, 2006 @ 7:17pm

    CP responsibility

    The problem was not that CP received bad information. The problem is that CP (and others in the business) often fail to include all relevant detail. For instance, in this case, they failed to maintain that the guy had been the victim of identity theft.

    But they are quite guilty of including information they should not. For instance, they routinely include information about charges having been brought even after a person is acquitted of said charges. And the reason is quite simple - they answer to the people who want them to carry dirt. It is better for them to give a falsely negative report then a folsely positive report. And so they will error on the siade of negative whenever possible.

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Mike C., Oct 31st, 2006 @ 4:30am

    Re: Re: Did He Sue Choicepoint

    Oh sure.... shoot a guy for practicing his First Ammendment rights.

    I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it - Evelyn Beatrice Hall, 1906.

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    Ed Falk, Oct 31st, 2006 @ 7:22pm

    Just tell me why he can't sue?

    Because they're rich and he's poor.

     

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  34.  
    icon
    Mark (profile), Nov 1st, 2006 @ 10:16pm

    Re: CP responsibility

    It is better for them to give a falsely negative report then a folsely positive report. And so they will error on the siade of negative whenever possible. and that's exactly why they get in so much trouble.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    rabble, Nov 2nd, 2006 @ 10:08am

    why he can't sue

    I may be wrong, but i believe there are some law suit protection laws around this stuff which were passed in the last few years. He can't sue because the credit agencies have managed to get an act of congress to protect themselves.

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    Ledi, Nov 12th, 2006 @ 9:48pm

    Re: CP responsibility

    In the past or not, a mistake of this caliber inside the intelligence community would have seen investigaotrs, factcheckers, and their supervisors jobless and prpbably short one security clearance.

    Information in exchange for money is rarely accurate. and I fail to see how any of these companies benifit anyone but themselves.

    There are many companies that will accuratley collect information for private companies, for failure to do so would cost them government contracts. Quite unlike a company that would release sensitive information to nigerian criminals.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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