LexisNexis Tightens Data Security

Company implements stricter controls over who gets access to personal information


NEW YORK (AP) - LexisNexis, which last week said intruders had accessed dossiers on about 32,000 people in one of its database products, has restricted access to individuals' Social Security and drivers license numbers.

The company's policy shift, which took effect Thursday, follows similar restrictions by a pair of competitors in the data-brokering business: ChoicePoint, which suffered a larger security breach, and Westlaw.

Westlaw executives said Thursday that about 85 percent of customers who previously had access to Social Security numbers would no longer have it.

LexisNexis, a division of London-based Reed Elsevier PLC, said the only customers who will receive the full Social Security and drivers license numbers are government law enforcement agencies, investigative and claims departments of insurance companies working on fraud investigations; investigative and debt collecting units of financial institutions, collections companies and collection departments from creditors.

Other public or private entities working on cases involving fraud or crimes could be given access on a case-by-case basis, LexisNexis said.

Authorized uses for Social Security numbers include locating witnesses, suspects or criminals; locating non-custodial spouses who owe child support or verification of identity, the company said.

Other users will still be able to search for records using a Social Security number, if they already have it.