Fraud affected 310,000 customers, Reed admits

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The Independent Online

Reed Elsevier, the Anglo-Dutch publishing giant, admitted yesterday that the number of customers affected by a string of fraudulent activity within its business information division, LexisNexis, was almost 10 times greater than its initial estimates.

Reed Elsevier, the Anglo-Dutch publishing giant, admitted yesterday that the number of customers affected by a string of fraudulent activity within its business information division, LexisNexis, was almost 10 times greater than its initial estimates.

In a statement, the group said it had discovered 59 incidents over the past two years of unauthorised users accessing its systems and obtaining personal information about customers. While Reed said its systems do not hold details of its clients' financial position or credit histories, the fraudsters were able to find names and addresses, driving licences and social security numbers.

Although Reed said last month it believed only 32,000 customers would be affected by the security lapse, it conceded yesterday that about 310,000 clients have been hit by the incidents.

The group said it was writing to those affected to offer free credit-monitoring services and insurance, to protect them against identity fraud as a result of the lapses. It added that it would also provide fraud counselling for those who have been, or are, defrauded as a result of the incidents.

The suspect activity was first spotted last month when a client complained about a bill. US law enforcement agencies were called in to investigate.

Reed said it was now introducing enhanced security for its LexisNexis and Seisint systems, to help prevent future incidents. It added that the financial implications for LexisNexis would be "manageable within the context of LexisNexis' overall growth".

Shares in Reed closed down 6p at 529.5p, giving it a market value of £6.74bn.

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