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Identity Theft Victim Launches Services To Help Others

The company's founder became an identity theft victim three years ago while recovering from a serious illness in a hospital. That experience led to the products and services now being piloted.

KnightsBridge Castle Inc., a 13-employee startup in Woodside, Calif., plans to launch identity theft services in March supported by software and applications that an identity theft victim designed.

In fact, the company's founder and executive vice president became an identity theft victim three years ago while recovering from a serious illness in a hospital. That experience led to products and services now being piloted.

The firm's Eye-spy service -- touted as a portal for organizing and monitoring the information needed to keep a secure identity -- aims to stop identity theft from occurring, rather than cleaning up the mess after the crime.

Consumers can purchase services direct from KnightsBridge Castle. Banks, insurance agencies and other companies also will have an option to offer customers and employees credit alerting, monitoring and detection services.

Software written in Java and Lisp that scans more than 80,000 paid subscription databases supports the service. The company said it can detect unauthorized access and use of social security numbers, driver license numbers and other identification.

The service also uses third-party software, spiders, bots and other Web-searching algorithms, similar to Google Inc.'s search engine or other browsers, scanning sites for information.

KnightsBridge Castle offers services now, but data collection processes are manual. It's taken more than one year to integrate the platforms, said Eric Drew, KnightsBridge Castle co-founder. "Petty criminals and drug addicts are getting access names addresses and phone numbers," he said. "They trade the information for drugs. It's become a commodity on the street."

Industry experts estimate one in 10 individuals will have their identity stolen, and cost $60,000 per person in time and expenses to solve the problem.

The victim's financial burden isn't the only challenge. "Identity theft is a crime of time, not just money," Drew said. "It cost the average person 600 hours to recover, but it took me more than 2,000 and I'm still getting past due notices on accounts I didn't open while I was in the hospital."

Drew became an identity theft victim in 2003. Richard Gibson, a lab technician, accessed through hospital computers Drew's medical records as he lay dying in a Seattle hospital bed fighting for his life from a rare form of Leukemia.

Gibson, who tested Drew's blood every day for three months, stole his identity and rung up $10,000 in fraudulent charges. He turned himself into the Seattle police on March 2, 2004. He pled guilty to the first ever HIPAA violation in the United States.

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