POSTED: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 - 10:30pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 - 10:34pm
Mark Barger — The Secret Service and the FBI are both looking into what appears to be a case of "identity hacking."
A website is posting what it claims to be personal and financial information of several government officials and high profile celebrities.
First Lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are just two of more than a dozen celebrities and government officials whose names appear on the website, along with what's claimed to be their personal information, such as Social Security numbers and addresses, and in some cases, credit reports.
"As it's become easier for consumers to see their credit report, it's also become easier for criminals to steal them," warns NBCNews.com technology writer Bob Sullivan.
One of the three major credit bureaus, Equifax, confirms that four credit reports were fraudulently accessed through AnnualCreditReport.com and that the company is cooperating with law enforcement authorities.
Sullivan says stolen credit reports are trafficked online like commodities by cyber-criminals.
"They just go to those websites you hear about on TV all the time and register and get a free copy of your credit report," he explains. "It's not that hard to break into those websites and that's almost certainly how they've gotten access to this information here."
In this case, the mysterious website appears to be based in Russia.
It uses an Internet suffix originally assigned to the Soviet Union.
There's no indication on the site why the spotlighted personalities were selected and their personal information posted.
"My hunch is that whoever has this data tried to use it and failed, and as a last resort, just publicized it as a gag," Sullivan says.
But it's one that authorities are taking very seriously.
Also investigating the website is the Los Angeles Police Department.
Its chief, Charlie Beck, is among the public figures with personal information listed.