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  • Vicki Siedow
    Everyone, PLEASE send Francie some ammunition to work with the FTC on your behalf. It takes less than 5 minutes to copy/paste this letter into your
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 13, 2008
      Everyone, PLEASE send Francie some ammunition to work with the FTC on your
      behalf. It takes less than 5 minutes to copy/paste this letter into your
      letterhead, put in your company/group name, sign and fax or scan/email it to
      her NOW, as she need is very early in the morning. Even your clients,
      family, friends are needed. This is huge. They are trying to slide it by
      us, as it IS so huge. Please help YOURSELF!

      Francie dumped her life and cases, and flew out at considerable expense, at
      the last minute, to work for YOU! Do this NOW!


      510 223-1271 (fax)

      Vicki Siedow

      Siedow & Associates Investigations

      2629 Foothill Blvd. # 262

      La Crescenta, CA 91214

      (Los Angeles County)



      818-688-3295 fax



      CA Licensed PI #22852; RPS 5538

      CITRMS: Certified Identity Theft Risk Management Specialist

      NCISS: National Council of Investigative and Security Services

      NCISS Membership Committee - http://www.nciss.org/


      Folks - I am leaving for the airport NOW.


      If you have NOT sent me a copy of your letter addressed to Donald Clark at
      the FTC regarding the Lexis-Nexis/Choicepoint merger, please send me a copy
      either by email or fax ASAP.

      I MUST have the letters no later than 10:00 am tomorrow (Tuesday) so that I
      can print them and deliver them during the meeting Legislative Advocate
      Larry Sabbath, Legislative Director Bruce Hulme and I have with the FTC.
      There is NOT ONE OF US that this merger does not potentially impact! We
      would not be making this huge effort if it wasn't important.

      To address the law enforcement issues, West Publishing is now handling that
      end. We will not have access to that provider information.

      Please email or fax your letter right away. Sometime on Wednesday, I will
      post a list of those who sent letters. We need letters from your individual
      agencies, your friends, your clients, your employees and your associations
      (on letterhead if possible). The higher the stack of letters, the better!

      Thank you all for your participation in this important effort.

      Below my signature line is a sample letter you can cut and paste + a white
      paper to provide you more information. My email access will be limited until
      I arrive in DC late tonight, but if you have questions, send them to me and
      I will answer them when I get in. Just warning you, however, it will be very

      Francie Koehler
      Special Circumstances PI 11539
      510 3rd Street, Suite 102
      Oakland, CA 94607
      510.987.8114 (ofc)
      510.223.9516 (fax)

      NCISS: President 2008-2009
      CALI: Legislation Chair, East Bay Director
      CII, NALI, WAD: Member



      Donald S. Clark
      Office of the Secretary
      Federal Trade Commission
      Room H-135
      600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
      Washington, DC 20580

      Re: Proposed Consent Order
      In the Matter of Reed Elsevier and ChoicePoint, FTC File No. 081-0133

      Dear Mr. Clark:

      I'm writing on behalf of ...... regarding the proposed consent order and
      acquisition of ChoicePoint by Reed Elsevier. Our association is comprised
      of investigators who provide critical services to government agencies,
      attorneys, state and US courts and others. We rely extensively on services
      provided by both Reed Elsevier and ChoicePoint and their subsidiaries to
      assist us in serving these clients.

      Over the past several years there has been tremendous consolidation among
      providers of public records services. This proposed acquisition will
      further reduce competition in the industry. Although there are several
      providers of data services in the marketplace, they are resellers of data
      provided by the respondents.

      The Commission's complaint found that this acquisition would be
      anticompetitive and a violation of antitrust law in the market for the sale
      of public records information to law enforcement agencies. The same effects
      would be felt in the market for sale of public records to the private

      It is important to have access to data from several suppliers during the
      conduct of an investigation. Limited resources reduce both the quality and
      quantity of information available. And our members, many of whom are small
      businesses, do not have the financial weight to bargain effectively with
      large entities in a non-competitive environment.

      We urge that the Commission not approve the acquisition until respondents
      can divest themselves of public records services provided to private
      industry as well as to law enforcement.

      Unless an appropriate remedy is offered, our members and their clients will
      suffer irreparable harm. When competition is reduced, incentives for
      innovation are reduced, prices rise and service suffers.

      Thank you for your consideration.



      Reed Elsevier's Acquisition of ChoicePoint Raises Serious Competitive

      On February 21, 2008, Reed Elsevier announced its $4.1 billion acquisition
      of ChoicePoint. As outlined below, this combination raises serious
      competitive concerns in a market in which Reed Elsevier and ChoicePoint are
      currently the two dominant players.
      Reed Elsevier purchased Seisint, the company that developed Accurint in
      August 31st, 2004 for $775 million. ChoicePoint CPS(NYSE) merged with
      DBT(NYSE) on May 16th, 2000 which represented over 50% of the pre-merger
      valuation of ChoicePoint. DBT's entire business was their product
      AutoTrack. The great majority of income of Seisint was Accurint and
      products that were enhanced from Accurint particularly for Law Enforcement
      and Homeland Security.
      Used millions of times a day, AutoTrack and Accurint are the only
      competitors to each other serving Law Enforcement, the investigative
      industries and used to keep commerce safe from fraud.
      1. Law Enforcement: Federal, Intel, State, County, City and Task Forces

      2. State and Federal Prosecutors and Public Defenders
      3. Attorneys
      4. Insurance Fraud especially in SIU (Special Investigative Units)
      5. Investigative News
      6. Collections: Credit Card, Bank Loans, Mortgages, all debt in
      7. Private Investigators
      8. General Business for fraud prevention.

      These two systems are the only two online systems that offer one-stop
      comprehensive public records reports on people and companies: (1) Accurint
      and (2) AutoTrack. These two products are distinct from other public record
      databases both in the amount and types of information they provide but also
      in the way in which these systems collate and link all of these data
      elements in a single view with interactive links allowing the user to
      further research a subject matter. These properties make Accurint and
      AutoTrack the only products capable of serving these industries in this

      The very unique capabilities of these two systems are their ability to link
      the following to a subject that otherwise would not be able to be linked to

      1. Deep address history going back decades.
      2. Previous and current assets, who they were purchased from and who
      they were sold to.
      3. Professional Licenses
      4. Criminal Records
      5. Accident Histories
      6. Bankruptcies and Judgments
      7. UCC Filings
      8. Company and Corporate Affiliations
      9. Associates, Previous Associates
      10. Relatives
      a. Relatives of relatives
      i. Relatives of relative's relatives
      11. Neighbors and current residents in neighbors' households

      Note: For Law Enforcement, there are many more unique linkages provided.
      Note 2: Similar unique capabilities exist for researching companies.
      Currently, Accurint is owned by Reed Elsevier and AutoTrack is owned by
      ChoicePoint. Accordingly, by unifying ownership of the two products, the
      Reed Elsevier/ChoicePoint combination would create a monopoly in the
      relevant market. The Reed Elsevier/ChoicePoint combination therefore
      threatens to destroy the only check on price by combining the two
      competitors in the market.

      The only potential competitor who stands ready to enter the market and has
      the requisite technical expertise and financial wherewithal to do so is Hank
      Asher, the inventor and original developer of both Accurint and AutoTrack.
      It took Mr. Asher years to develop and market Accurint and AutoTrack. Mr.
      Asher, however, is now barred from entering the market by a non-compete
      agreement with Reed Elsevier. This non-compete eliminates for a period of
      time the only viable competitor to the Reed Elsevier/ChoicePoint monopoly.

      I. The Reed/ChoicePoint Combination Would Effect a 2-to-1 Merger
      a. Accurint and AutoTrack are products utilized to obtain detailed
      biographical information about people and companies. These products allow a
      user to fill in any amount of data they have, as little as that might be, to
      find the right person (i.e., Linda Smith, 50 mile radius of Chicago, between
      the age of 50 and 55). Once the person is identified, then all of the other
      data on that person is immediately available in a linked report.
      i. These products are utilized by consumers millions of times a day to
      investigate crime, collect money, investigate lawsuits, find missing
      relatives for organ donations, reunite families, and other similar purposes.

      ii. For reports on individuals, these products provide the following
      types of information to the consumer who purchases a search: deep address
      history going back decades, previous and current assets, who they were
      purchased from and who they were sold to, professional licenses, criminal
      records, accident histories, bankruptcies and judgments, UCC filings,
      company and corporate affiliations, associates, previous associates,
      relatives, relatives of relatives, relatives of relative's relatives, and
      neighbors and current residents in neighbors' households.
      iii. For reports on businesses, these products additionally provide the
      following types of information to the consumer who purchases a search:
      company name variations, corporation filings, business registrations,
      associated businesses, assets at address (motor vehicles, etc.), properties,
      and internet domain names.
      b. The market for these products is a cognizable market under antitrust
      merger analysis.
      i. Although there are minor differences between these products, they
      are each other's closest substitute.
      1. Accurint and AutoTrack currently compete against one another for
      contracts with law enforcement agencies, insurance companies, law firms, and
      other large consumers of the product. They compete for customers and
      contracts based on price point (whether it be per search pricing or bulk
      pricing) and functionality (e.g., breadth of data and data analysis tools).

      2. Many job postings in the relevant consumer industries require a
      candidate's proficiency in either Accurint or AutoTrack.
      ii. There are no substitutes for these two products.
      1. Both Accurint and AutoTrack have consistently increased their prices
      without attracting viable new entrants to the market.
      a. For example, since 2004, Accurint has increased the price for its
      most common search (the basic person search) 440%.
      b. These price increases have not been caused by cost increases.
      2. A number of state agencies have entered sole source contracts for
      Accurint and AutoTrack because of the unique nature of the product.
      c. There are no other material competitors in the market.
      i. Every major law enforcement agency utilizes Accurint or AutoTrack or
      ii. The closet competitors are very small niche players.
      1. The small niche players may have one or several data elements but
      none provide a comprehensive collation of all of the data elements provided
      by Accurint or AutoTrack in a single view with the ability to further
      research a subject.
      2. Some of what appear to be niche players are products owned by Reed
      Elsevier or ChoicePoint.
      a. E.g., Nexis.com
      3. Other small players are actually resellers.
      a. E.g., IRBsearch.com is an Accurint reseller.
      d. There are barriers to entry into the market.
      i. Cost to develop product.
      ii. Intellectual know-how/property.
      1. The technology behind these products is artificial intelligence
      based upon complex algorithms. Thus far, Mr. Asher is the only individual
      who has been able to develop these products.
      iii. Asher non-compete.

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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