by David Utter
Major mortgage lender Countrywide has more problems than those presented by the abysmal housing market: an employee pilfered data on nearly 2 million customers over a two-year period.
Working off hours on Sundays with USB drives on hand, Rene Rebollo Jr. grabbed personal information week after week and sold it to Wahid Siddiqi, netting about $70,000 in the process.
Rebollo worked as a senior financial analyst for Countrywide's Full Spectrum Lending, a division that specialized in subprime lending. The Mercury News said he has been accused of grabbing 20,000 records each week, and selling the data to Siddiqi for $500 each time.
Such data included Social Security numbers, and exposed each victim to potential identity fraud. Countrywide has contacted about 19,000 customers to date with offers of free credit monitoring services for two years to help mitigate that risk.
The crime highlighted the risk of failing to impose and monitor data access controls at Countrywide. Though solutions exist to alert security professionals of such activity, and to restrict the usage of portable storage devices, not enough companies utilize those services.