FTC: Consumer Privacy Comments Concerning Shawer & Associates--P974806
JULY 8, 1997
MR ROBERT TITOFSKY, CHAIRMAN, FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION
RE: SUPPORT OF SELF REGULATION
Dear Mr. Chairman:
In response to the Commission's request for additional comments following hearings held June 10th, 1997, I wish to inform the Commission that Shawver & Associates is a licensed Investigative Agency and as such, we are regular users of public and non-public records (such as credit headers) and totally support the proposition of self regulation.
The Texas Board of Private Investigators and Private Security Agencies maintains its own set of standards and ethics and regularly investigates complaints against individuals and fellow licensed investigators or investigative companies.
It is crucial that available public records and non-public records (credit headers) remain available to the licensed investigator. If these records become "unavailable" then illegal methods would be employed to obtain this information. If these records become "unavailable" then the general public would fall prey to unethical, immoral and illegal acts to invade one's right of privacy.
Shawver & Associates serves the legal Community and information obtained has to be accurate and must be obtained legally. If not, any information developed during the course of an investigation that is not obtained legally is inadmissable in court and not leaving the right to available records would jeopardize the judicial system. As an example, Shawver & Associates frequently investigate Worker's Compensation claims find through credit, header information, was able to develop information that the so called injured worker, had employment history. Following up through information developed through the credit header file, we were able to document the individual's other source of time and prove Worker's Compensation Fraud. The information we developed went to the insurance carrier and the insurance carrier then takes our information to the District Attorney's office to prosecute the claimant for fraud.
There are many stories I would like to tell you concerning locating those lost relatives or eliminating liability exposure for the employer when they consider hiring an individual with multiple drivers licenses or social security numbers.
The data we regularly access and use in our reports to clients has a beneficial use and need in society. It is important that a free flow of information be available to support commerce and our judicial system. Tt also allows the public, who does not leave the resources to manage all of the problems they are faced with, to defend itself without looking to government for help. Further, regulation would create additional barriers to use that today saves lives, prevent fraud and bring families together.
We are required to keep the information confidential and maintain a high degree of accuracy in our reports due to law and the test of the courts and market place. To have the targets of our investigations able to browse around in our inquiries and data, or opt out of databases that are private and public would be the death of our industry and freedom. The prevention of wrong doing and protection of fraud is the real test of the use of the data.
Privacy protection can be managed through our industry's self regulation of uses and distribution. Our industry has stated a willingness and desire to self regulate. This industry must have the opportunity to self regulate and welcomes the government's help in. Enforcing the rules, through our efforts and the industry's associations.
I ask that you support self regulation and work with the industry to successfully bring about policies and procedures that we can all live with in a free society.
CC -Congressman, Solomon Ortis