Thursday, May 26, 2005

More fun and games with Seisint & the Federal Snoops

Want a quick, low cost credit and background records check on someone? Apparently somebody does - or at least they're being told they do.

Want to see how Kurt Sanford (LexisNexis CEO) lies about what information Seisant has, sells and in particular, shares about people? You know, the part about the security breach where he claims credit information wasn't accessed in the now-infamous leak that was supposedly just a little one, then the truth came out. (See the March archives.)

Well, sure enough, there's a trade organization for just about every business in this great country. And what do you know, there's even an association of "self-storage" rental places, known as the "Self Storage Association." They've been around a long time; 30 years, according to their web site, and they represent some 2,750 companies with nearly 47,000 properties.

And wouldn't you know it, Seisint (the home to the MATRIX scheme) has set up a really slick, low-cost credit and background check service for these folks. It's one of those "member benefits" that they call an "id verification program" on their web site. No mention of the credit score part. No mention of the bankruptcy check they can run on existing tenants or the notification they can get if you move or file for bankruptcy. No mention of the criminal background check, either.

Now this Court understands why a storage landlord needs this information. After all, you don't want to have some low-life stashing stuff in your property, right? So your going to take the word of a computer system in Florida that is broadly contaminated with bogus information from undefined sources and mixed in with an equally-faulty credit score.

With a clever marketing scheme and a catchy name that bespeaks the protection of the country in this time of terrorist threats (ssacountermeasures), Seisint tugs at the hearts (and a little at the wallets) of storage rental landlords by asking them what it's worth, "Knowing you're doing everything in your power to help fight international terrorism right here at home." Wow, don't we all feel better.

But what no one seems to realize is that Seisint is offering this service on their custom-made and supported (just for SSA) web site at BELOW COST. $7.95 per hit for the credit-included snooping and $4.95 if no credit information is wanted. (But golly, Kurt, you said there weren't credit records available?!?)

But a better question, Kurt - why so cheap? Simple - because Seisint allows law enforcement and skip-tracing and collections companies to snoop around in people's personal business (and with this new offering, where they keep things) for, of course, a profit.

It's not what you might have in the storage space - although one has to wonder how long before that "feature" is added; if you are a tenant (or even apply to be one), you're now on Seisint's national list of suspects (or should we say "persons of interest?") because you have a storage rental unit if the landlord SSA member signs up for the service and checks on you.

And - you may not even know they checked you out. They can do it right at the desk before hand, or they can check you out later.

Not 'round here. On this side of the Pecos, citizens are hereby advised to find another place to stash their junk if the landlord starts acting inquisitive. Better yet, if you see the SSA logo on the door, ask if they use the privacy invasion system BEFORE you give them your name.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean.

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