The story of Amy Boyer's death is an extreme example of what can happen when private data falls into dangerous hands.
Boyer had no idea that her former grade school classmate Liam Youens was stalking her for years. Youens had created a scary, rambling website about Boyer, claiming she rejected him in high school and he'd wanted to kill her ever since.
According to court documents, Youens contacted first private investigation service Docusearch.com on July 29, 1999. The next day, he placed an order for Boyer's Social Security number. Docusearch got that information from a credit reporting agency and sent the number to Youens on August 2 for $45.
A few weeks later, Youens paid $30 for a "locate by SSN" service, which revealed Boyer's home address. Still not satisfied, he placed a few $109 orders for her employment address. It took Docusearch several tries, but eventually the company hired subcontractor Michelle Gambino to call Boyer; Gambino lied about who she was to convince Boyer to confirm her work address.
Youens finally had all the information he needed to carry out his obsessive dream. He lurked outside Boyer's office for weeks, trying to find the perfect time to kill her. Finally, on October 15, Youens fatally shot Boyer multiple times as she left work. He then turned the gun on himself.
Following Boyer's death, her parents sued Docusearch in New Hampshire court. The case went all the way to the state's Supreme Court, which ruled that "an investigator who obtains a person's work address by means of pretextual phone calling, and then sells the information, may be liable for damages."
Docusearch did not respond to requests for comment.