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Credit bureaus deny breaches in celebrity data scandal

LOS ANGELES — The three major credit bureaus say hackers who have posted credit reports on stars and government officials in recent days did not breach secure databases but relied on personal information they collected elsewhere on the public figures.

Representatives for Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion wrote in statements that they are cooperating with authorities investigating the website that has posted private financial data of stars such as Jay-Z and Tiger Woods as well as Vice President Joe Biden and first lady Michelle Obama.

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The companies said they were working to minimize the financial damage to victims. Experian spokesman Gerry Tschopp said the company had frozen credit files of those whose info has been posted online.

Equifax spokesman Tim Klein wrote in a statement that an initial investigation showed the hackers exploited a website designed to give consumers a free credit report. The three companies all state that the hackers used a wealth of personal information on their victims to impersonate them and generate the credit reports.

Although Biden and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are included on the site, their credit reports have not been posted.

The site, which is being investigated by the FBI and Secret Service, includes Social Security numbers, credit reports, addresses, and phone numbers on most victims. It bears an Internet suffix assigned to the former Soviet Union, and many of the pages feature unflattering pictures or taunting messages of the person featured. Others whose information is posted include US Attorney General Eric Holder and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Raquel Maria Dillon in Los Angeles and Julie Pace and Pete Yost in Washington contributed.
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