Lexis-Nexis is hoping to halt a flood of telephone calls and email it has been receiving from Internet users who are riled up about a chain email that accuses the company of marketing sensitive personal information. The postings warn Internet users that Lexis-Nexis's P-TRAK computer file contains US social security numbers and mothers' maiden names, but Lexis-Nexis has issued a statement denying part of that claim.
P-TRAK displays names, addresses, telephone numbers and in some cases the individual's maiden name and birthdate, information that is readily available from public information sources such as telephone directories and government records, according to the firm. The file does contain social security numbers, but does not display them, says a spokesman.
"Contrary to some messages that have been posted to some Internet discussion and news groups, the P-TRAK file does not contain any credit histories, bank account information, personal financial data, mother's maiden name or medical histories," the statement says.
"Lexis-Nexis is aware of the sensitivities regarding the potential misuse of information," it continues. "Through its actions, Lexis-Nexis is balancing the privacy concerns of the public with the legitimate needs of legal, business and government professionals for access to accurate sources of publicly available information."
The P-TRAK file first garnered attention when it went into service in June. It originally displayed social security numbers, but Lexis-Nexis altered the system so the numbers would not be displayed 11 days later after receiving a barrage of complaints.
The file is marketed to the legal community for use by lawyers and law enforcement agencies to find litigants, witnesses, shareholders, debtors, heirs and beneficiaries, Lexis-Nexis says.
People interested in having their names removed from the P-TRAK file can email their names and addresses to: firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out a form on the World Wide Web at