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.
MSNBC.com was alerted to the problem late on 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 pre-populated in the questionnaire,'" said a source.
The source said she went back to the site on 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 on Wednesday morning.
Another user said he was alerted to the problem early on Wednesday by email from another SelectQuote surfer. He 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.
The man 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.
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