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FTC Reaches Settlement, With No Admission Of Wrongdoing, On Phone Records

Integrity Security & Investigation Services must pay $2,700 and is barred from obtaining or selling consumers' phone records or personal information unless authorized by law or court order.

[Update, Friday, Oct. 13, 11:20 am. The inital version of this story incorrectly characterized the firm discussed in this story as an Internet pretexter. It also incorrectly stated that the firm admitted to breaking laws. Both those statements were incorrect. We sincerely regret the errors. The story has been updated with a deletion of the erroneous material.]

The Federal Trade Commission on Thursday announced that it had reached a settlement with an Internet firm.

Yorktown, Va.-based Integrity Security & Investigation Services must surrender $2,700 by Jan. 1, according to the settlement, which was filed in federal court. Integrity Security admitted no wrongdoing. As part of its settlement, the company agrreed to refrain from obtaining or selling consumers' phone records or personal information unless authorized by law or court order.

Integrity Security was one of five Web-based firms accused of pretexting by the FTC in a May 2006 complaint.

The agreement also specifically bans the firm from "pretexting." That term -- which means obtaining records using false pretenses -- has come into vogue with the Hewlett-Packard board scandal. HP hired outside agents to investigate a leak to the media; some of those investigators used pretexting to access land line and cell phone records of numerous individuals, including some journalists and at least two board members.

Former HP chairman Patricia Dunn and four others were charged Thursday with felonies stemming from the investigation and pretexting. Congress is also considering legislation that would ban pretexting.

The other cases, against 77 Investigations Inc. of Upland, Calif.; AccuSearch Inc. of Cheyenne, Wyo.; CEO Group Inc. of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; and Information Search Inc. of Baltimore, Md., are still in litigation.

The text of the settlement with Integrity Security & Investigation Services can be download as a PDF file from the FTC Web site.

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