According to a recent Federal Trade Commission complaint, a data broker sold sensitive personal information of hundreds of thousands of consumers – including Social Security and bank account numbers – to scammers who allegedly debited millions from their accounts.  The complaint alleges that data broker LeapLab bought payday loan applications of financially strapped consumers, and then sold that information to marketers whom it knew had no legitimate need for it. At least one of those marketers, Ideal Financial Solutions – a defendant in another FTC case – allegedly used the information to withdraw millions of dollars from consumers’ accounts without their authorization.

According to the FTC’s website and the complaint, these defendants would collect hundreds of thousands of payday loan applications from payday loan websites.  These website applications, including those bought and sold by LeapLab, contained consumers’ sensitive financial information, names, addresses, phone numbers, Social Security numbers and bank account numbers including routing numbers.

The FTC’s complaint alleges that certain non-lender third parties included marketers that made unsolicited sales offers to consumers via email, text message, or telephone calls.  According to the FTC’s complaint, the defendants had reason to believe these marketers had “no legitimate need” for the sensitive information they were selling. The defendants in the case are alleged to have violated the FTC Act’s prohibition on unfair practices.

The FTC notes that it files a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated and it appears to the FTC that a proceeding is in the public interest.  We will monitor this case and provide further updates of interest.