By Jeffrey Goldfarb and Andy Sullivan
LONDON/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Data broker LexisNexis on Wednesday said that identity thieves have gained access to profiles of 32,000 U.S. citizens, prompting calls for better consumer protections after a rash of similar break-ins.
The U.S. Secret Service said it is investigating the incident, while a company spokeswoman said the FBI has also launched an investigation.
The announcement comes amid heightened scrutiny of data brokers and other companies that handle consumer information, after rival ChoicePoint Inc. said last month that thieves had gained access to at least 145,000 consumer profiles.
U.S. lawmakers plan at least two hearings over the coming week and are considering new regulations.
LexisNexis, a subsidiary of Anglo-Dutch Reed Elsevier , said a billing complaint by a customer of its Seisint unit in the past week led to the discovery that an identity and password had been misappropriated.
The information accessed included names, addresses, Social Security and driver's license numbers, but not credit histories, medical records or financial information.
LexisNexis, which bought Seisint last year, said it is contacting the32,000 people affected and offering them credit monitoring and other support to detect any identity theft.
The company is also changing the way it handles passwords and other security features, said Kurt Sanford, president and CEO of the company's corporate and federal markets division.[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: For the complete report on this incident involving LexisNexis, see the article by Lisa Minter elsewhere in this issue of the Digest, and also review our supplementary news section . PAT]