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Countrywide customers receive warning letters

Some Fallbrook residents who have home mortgages through Countrywide Financial Corporation, a California-based company, are receiving letters notifying them that their personal information may have been sold to a third party.

Even if a letter has not been received, sources say Countrywide loan customers should call their lenders to see if they are at risk.

In its letter to affected customers, Countrywide says the fraudulent crime was an “inside job.”

It reads: “We are writing to inform yemployee (now former) may have sold personal information about you to a third party.

“Based on a joint investigation conducted by Countrywide and law enforcement authorities, it was determined that the customer information involved in this incident included your name, address, mortgage loan number, and various other loan application information, which potentially could have included your Social Security number.”

In August, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released a statement pertaining to their findings in an investigation on the matter.

“This is an ongoing investigation, so from the FBI standpoint, we are not allowed to say a lot about how this happened and things like that,” said Jumana Bauwenf, Countrywide spokesperson. “There have been many reports in the media because some things got out.”

While Countrywide wouldn’t divulge any pertinent information to the case, the Boston Globe reported that the Los Angeles division of the FBI made two arrests in August.

It was reported that Rene Rebollo, 36, of Pasadena, was fired from a senior financial analyst position at a Countrywide sub-prime mortgage division office.

“Investigators say Rebollo admitted to giving out customers’ account information to third parties over two years,” printed the newspaper.

The article went on to say that for two years, Rebollo allegedly downloaded nearly 20,000 data files per week and earned up to a total of $70,000. Rebollo has pleaded not guilty.

The second person arrested was Wahid Siddiqi, 25, of Thousand Oaks, for allegedly purchasing the sensitive Countrywide client information.

The Boston Globe and other media outlets have reported that across the nation, up to 2.2 million clients may have had their personal information stolen.

As of yet, not all Countrywide customers have been notified. The letters are still being printed and sent out.

“It’s starting to dwindle down, we hope; there is a lot of evidence that needs to be sifted through – computer programs and e-mail files,” explained Bauwenf. “As find things, we contact the customers.”

For customers who have been affected by the security breach, Countrywide is offering a two-year complimentary credit monitoring system named Triple Advantage. Daily monitoring is done through the three major credit bureaus which will alert a customer of any changes to their credit reports.

“We will control the things you have within Countrywide, but unfortunately, we cannot control things you have outside of Countrywide, and that is why we developed this system,” said Bauwenf.

According to Bauwenf, there is an insurance policy associated with Triple Advantage if a fraud were to occur.

Another twist to the security breach is that not all individuals on some loan documents appear to have been affected.

“My wife is secondary on our Countrywide home loan and I am the primary, but she is the one whose identity has been compromised,” said one Fallbrook resident, who asked to remain anonymous. “And a complimentary two-year monitoring system just isn’t long enough; my wife’s information could be floating around for many years.”

Countrywide customers, or those who have recently applied for a loan, are urged to call a special services hotline at (866) 451-5895 to check the status of their personal information.

The Law Offices of Finkelstein Thompson have filed a class action lawsuit against Countrywide Financial Corporation. For more information, contact Karen Marcus at (202) 337-8000 or [email protected].

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