A Web site that sells Social Security numbers, bank account information and other sensitive data on millions of Americans appears to be obtaining at least some of its records from a network of hacked or complicit payday loan sites.
Usearching.info boasts the “most updated database about USA,” and offers the ability to purchase personal information on countless Americans, including SSN, mother’s maiden name, date of birth, email address, and physical address, as well as and driver license data for approximately 75 million citizens in Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, Mississippi, Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin.
Users can search for an individual’s information by name, city and state (for .3 credits per search), and from there it costs 2.7 credits per SSN or DOB record (between $1.61 to $2.24 per record, depending on the volume of credits purchased). This portion of the service is remarkably similar to an underground site I profiled last year which sold the same type of information, even offering a reseller plan.
What sets this service apart is the addition of more than 330,000 records (plus more being added each day) that appear to be connected to a satellite of Web sites that negotiate with a variety of lenders to offer payday loans.
I first began to suspect the information was coming from loan sites when I had a look at the data fields available in each record. A trusted source opened and funded an account at Usearching.info, and purchased 80 of these records, at a total cost of about $20. Each includes the following data: A record number, date of record acquisition, status of application (rejected/appproved/pending), applicant’s name, email address, physical address, phone number, Social Security number, date of birth, bank name, account and routing number, employer name, and the length of time at the current job. These records are sold in bulk, with per-record prices ranging from 16 to 25 cents depending on volume.
But it wasn’t until I started calling the people listed in the records that a clearer picture began to emerge. I spoke with more than a dozen individuals whose data was being sold, and found that all had applied for payday loans on or around the date in their respective records. The trouble was, the records my source obtained were all dated October 2011, and almost nobody I spoke with could recall the name of the site they’d used to apply for the loan. All said, however, that they’d initially provided their information to one site, and then were redirected to a number of different payday loan options.