Insurance site exposes personal data : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

By Mike Brunker, MSNBC March 22, 2000 3:07 PM PT

Consumers who requested online life insurance quotes from the SelectQuote Web site on Tuesday and Wednesday got more than they bargained for: Thanks to an apparent software glitch, their personal information was left on the company's Web site for all the world to see.

The problem occurred when a form that consumers fill out to request a quote failed to clear the contents at the end of the process. This left everything from the previous user's name and address to information on current coverage and parents' health histories plainly visible to the next person requesting a quote.

Officials of San Francisco-based SelectQuote Insurance Services did not immediately return calls seeking comment on the problem.

Outraged customer was alerted to the problem late Tuesday by a prospective SelectQuote customer, who was outraged that other visitors to the site were able to view her personal information. "About 10 minutes (after filling out the form) I got a call from a woman in Ohio who said, 'I'm just someone who's on SelectQuote and all your information is prepopulated in the questionnaire,'" said Ona Karasa of Bellevue, Wash.

Karasa said she went back to the site Wednesday morning and saw the information of two other people who apparently had just requested life-insurance quotes using the online service. MSNBC editors also were able to access personal information entered by other users until late Wednesday morning.

Alerted by another user Another user, Richard Underwood of Rockville, Md., said he was alerted to the problem early Wednesday by e-mail from another SelectQuote surfer. Underwood said a company representative had called and left a message concerning his request for a quote, but did not mention the Web site problem. "Truthfully, I don't know if I want to talk to anyone at SelectQuote about life insurance at this point," he said.

Underwood said the experience would likely make him pause the next time he is prompted to enter personal information on a Web site.

"I was just getting to the point where I was reasonably comfortable doing that, but I may have to think twice if this is how it works," he said,4586,2472277,00.html

-- Martin Thompson (, March 22, 2000

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