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ID thieves swipe data on 13,000

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Ford has warned 13,000 US consumers that their credit history has been illegally obtained by identity thieves posing as the motor manufacturer's credit lending arm.

The data, believed to include details of Social Security numbers, bank and credit card account information, was obtained by criminals between April 2001 and February this year through enquiries to a credit reference database run by Experian. It's feared information might be used to apply for bogus loans or in credit card fraud.

Details on the crime are sketchy but a spokesman for Ford Credit told us authorised persons were able to query Experian's database after obtaining the code used by the motor manufacturer to make enquiries about potential customers' credit ratings.

The problem came to light in February, when it was realised that crooks were using different software to access the database than the motor giant, Reuters reports.

Few of those affected were Ford Credit customers, and all lived in the US. Ford has written to those affected to advise them on the steps they need to take to safeguard themselves from fraud.

An FBI investigation into the security breach is underway, but has yet to result in any arrests. ®

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