WASHINGTON (AP) -- The hackers who stole and published credit reports for Michelle Obama, the FBI director and other U.S. officials and celebrities apparently exploited a website that was designed to give consumers a free credit report.
That's according to a spokesman for one of the largest U.S. credit bureaus, Tim Klein of Equifax. He says an initial investigation suggests that the hackers used personal details about their victims to impersonate them and generate the credit reports.
Officials from the three major credit bureaus are all saying they're cooperating with the U.S. criminal investigation being conducted by the FBI and Secret Service.
The Associated Press has learned that the investigation includes a San Francisco-based Internet company, Cloudfare. It operates the computers that were used behind the scenes to send visitors to a Russian website where the stolen credit reports were being published. A spokeswoman for Cloudfare says the company doesn't comment on its customers.
The crime has caught the attention of Congress and of President Barack Obama. The president told ABC it should come as no surprise that hackers who want to devote the effort and the resources can get access to private information. He says there needs to be a continual effort to safeguard that information.
094-a-14-(President Barack Obama, in interview)-"a big problem"-President Obama says he can't confirm if hackers got the social security number and credit report of his wife, but he confirms investigators are trying to figure out what happened. COURTESY: ABC NEWS ((mandatory on-air credit)) (13 Mar 2013)
097-a-08-(Chief Charlie Beck, Los Angeles Police Department, at news conference)-"public eye, victims"-Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck says investigators from his department are working the case. (13 Mar 2013)
095-a-07-(President Obama, in interview)-"have been stolen"-President Obama says he's not sure if a claim by hackers that they got the first lady's social security number and credit report is real. COURTESY: ABC NEWS ((mandatory on-air credit)) (13 Mar 2013)
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