Hacking. Disinformation. Surveillance. CYBER is Motherboard’s podcast and reporting on the dark underbelly of the internet.
A member of a fraud-focused community on Telegram is advertising access to TLO, a data tool typically used by private investigators to obtain sensitive information on targets, including their Social Security Number (SSN), date of birth, and physical address history.
“This is very powerful information that can help professionals with fraud investigations. Or can help criminals commit fraud as well as a variety of other crimes,” Igor Ostrovskiy, a New York based private investigator with Ostro Intelligence, said when Motherboard alerted him to the data access.
Do you know anything else about data selling like this? We’d love to hear from you. Using a non-work phone or computer, you can contact Joseph Cox securely on Signal on +44 20 8133 5190, Wickr on josephcox, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Find likely locations, telephones, assets, liens, bankruptcies, fraud history and much more,” TLO’s website reads. The website adds that SSN and date of birth results are only available to “licensed investigators, repossession agents, bail bonds, process servers.”
The listing on Telegram explicitly advertises access to SSN lookups. The seller did not respond to a request for comment and did not list a price for the service. Ostrovskiy said it costs him less than $5 to perform a TLO search himself when he is working on an investigation.
TransUnion did not respond to a request for comment.
“Having this data out in the hands of criminals will lead to the data being resold multiple times and with criminals using it for fraud, including identity theft,” Ostrovskiy added.