The Federal Trade Commission is suing debt broker Bayview Solutions LLC for posting the debt portfolios of 28,000 consumers online, including full bank account and routing numbers.
The FTC wants to stop the St. Petersburg, Fla.-based company from putting the personal identifying information online, stating that there is a high likelihood of ongoing consumer injury as a result of the practice - including possible identity theft, account fraud and invasion of privacy.
Bayview's core business is buying and selling portfolios of commercial debt for eventual collection by third-party collection agencies.
The company, established in 2008, also does business as Bayview Risk Management Capital and Bayview Commercial Recovery.
In the complaint filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., the FTC claims that at least 21 times, "defendants have offered their debt portfolios for sale by posting them on this website in the form of unencrypted, unprotected Excel spreadsheets. By this means they have exposed to public view consumers' sensitive personal information."
The FTC wants injunctive relief against Bayview and its officers, Aron Tomko and Jonathan Ortiz. It also wants certain contracts to be rescinded and for the company to give up wrongful gains realized through the alleged activity.
"In addition to significant information about the consumer's alleged debt, the information on the unprotected Excel spreadsheets has included, but has not been limited to, the consumer's first name; date of birth; city; state; consumer's email address; employer name; name of consumer's bank; consumer's full bank account number; and bank routing number; consumer's driver's license."?
The FTC said that sellers using the website post a summary of the portfolios they are offering, and in some cases, they might post sample portions of any given portfolio, hiding personal identifiers that would disclose a consumer's identity or compromise their sensitive personal information. One way the defendants have sold their portfolios is through such sites that service online marketplaces for debt collecting and debt brokering, according to the FTC's complaint.
"These websites provide a venue for debt sellers and buyers to identify one another and exchange information about debt portfolios they seek to sell or buy. Although catering to members of the debt collection industry, one particular website used by defendants is a public website that is readily accessible to anyone with internet access," the complaint continues. "There are no passwords or other security methods restricting access to view posts on the website."