About Us

A century of trusted product solutions.

Merchants Information Solutions

Delivering world-class Identity Theft and Integrity Testing services.

Since 1912, Merchants has provided credit reporting services throughout the state of Arizona. Merchants is a member-owned corporation governed by a board of directors.

Our Values

We’re devoted to and operate on four core values that we believe shape our company’s culture.


Integrity is the foundation of our company and is an integral part of everything we do.


Success of our company directly affects our customer experience with applied industry knowledge.


We believe teamwork empowers and gives ownership to employees that translates into better customer service.


As industry experts, we’re driven and focused to bring the most robust product solutions to the market.

Fact Sheet

Corporate History

  • Incorporated in Phoenix, Arizona as Merchant's and Manufacturer's Exchange on February 15, 1912 - the day after Arizona became a state. The company originally functioned as a board of trade and better business bureau.
  • Offered consumer credit-reporting services in the early 1920s.
  • Became a non-stock, member-owned corporation in 1928.
  • Unofficially changed name to The Credit Bureau of Phoenix in 1946. The change became official in 1958.
  • Began acquiring and automating other Arizona credit-reporting agencies in 1971.
  • Changed name to Credit Data of Arizona in 1973. Over the next decade, our company opened new offices and automated credit-reporting agencies in Tucson, Albuquerque, and El Paso.
  • Changed name to Credit Data Southwest in 1985.
  • Changed name to Merchants Information Solutions, Inc. in 1999.
  • Acquired Personnel Profiles Employment Screening to form background screening services powerhouse in 2006.
  • Acquired American Tescor, LLC adding behavioral assessments to screening tools in 2006.
  • Continues to expand by purchase of Scottsdale-based ID Advocates in early 2007.
  • Creates SmartIDentity, an Identity Theft suite of services focused on fully-managed victim identity theft victim recovery in 2007.
  • SmartIDentity counts more than 1 million members, only 3 years after inception in 2010.
  • Creates the SmartIDentity for Business suite of services to combat the ever-growing data breach epedemic in 2011.
  • Merchants celebrates 100 years in business in 2012, being founded the day after Arizona became a state, Merchants is recognized as one of the oldest businesses in Arizona during the states centennial celebration.
  • SmartIDentity counts more than 5 million members in 2013.
  • Rebrands the behavioral assessment IntegrityFirst, to better align the brand with the purpose of the assessment in the marketplace in 2016.
  • SmartIDentity counts more than 10 million members in 2016 and growing.

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Our Leadership

Years of experience and a commitment to integrity serves as the foundation for our leadership. Read more about our directors and executives below.

Board of Directors

Philip LeHew, Chairman

Our chairman retired from Wells Fargo Bank as Vice President in the Special Investigation Division. He retired in 2009 after 17 years of service. His banking career spans a period of 29 years. During that time, he worked physical security, check, credit card and debit card fraud. He was also active in the design video surveillance and premise protection for the banks. His 17 years with Wells Fargo bank was spent working internal investigations. He has written bank policy and procedure manuals while employed with Western Saving and Bank of America and throughout his 29 years in banking conducted fraud and loss prevention training for bank employees.

He also enjoyed 10 years of law enforcement  while living in Iowa and again when he moved to Arizona in 1971. When he first moved to Arizona he attend Professional Golfers Association (PGA) business school and worked in the golf profession as an assistant golf professional and golf instructor.

Since 1987, he’s served on the Board of Directors of Merchants Information Solutions.

During his years of employment in law enforcement and banking, he continued his education at various colleges and employee sponsored classes and seminars in criminal law, interview and interrogation techniques, financial fraud and internal investigation classes. He also held office in the International Association of Credit Card investigator (IACCI), and does volunteer work at his church. He was a member of The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA), and was also a member of the Association of Certified Fraud Specialists (CFS).  

Ronald L. Westad, 1st Vice-Chairman

Ronald L. Westad began his service as a Board member of Merchants Information Solutions, Inc. in 1999 and is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Arizona Federal Credit Union (AFCU). AFCU serves more than 200,000 members representing more than $1.6 billion in total assets.

Ron holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Accounting and Finance from the University of New Mexico and has resided in Arizona since April of 1987.

Ron is active in Arizona’s civic and business communities. In addition, he serves The 100 Club, and the Board of Directors of CNBS, LLC. He is also a past member of the Board of Directors of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Youth Assistance Foundation and is a past Advisory Board member of Make A Difference (now known as HandsOn Greater Phoenix), a non-profit organization that coordinates a network of volunteers for diverse community service projects. Ron also completed an 8-year term on the Board of Directors of the Greater Phoenix Urban League. He held all table officer positions including that of Chairman. He also previously served a six-year term as a member of the Board of Directors of the Arizona Credit Union League, including terms as Vice Chairman and Treasurer, and a four-year term on the Board of Directors of First Corporate Credit Union.

Stephen W. Gilliland, 2nd Vice-Chairman

Dr. Stephen W. Gilliland is the Associate Dean for Executive Education in the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona. He holds the Arnold Lesk Chair in Leadership also serves as Executive Director of the Center for Leadership Ethics. He previously served as vice dean for the Eller College. Prior to moving to Arizona, Gilliland received degrees from the University of Alberta and Michigan State University (Ph.D., 1992) and was on the faculty at Louisiana State University.

Professor Gilliland’s research examines the fairness of management practices and policies and the impact of fair leadership on employee behaviors. Through this merging of social, legal, and managerial issues, he has authored more than 50 journal articles, books, and book chapters. He has served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Applied Psychology, Personnel Psychology, and the Academy of Management Journal. In 2006, Gilliland was elected as a Fellow in the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP). He was also the 1997 recipient of the Ernest J. McCormick Award for Early Career Contributions from SIOP.

Professor Gilliland has taught numerous courses on business ethics, human resource management, general management, healthcare entrepreneurship, and social entrepreneurship. He has developed and taught executive leadership programs for healthcare, public sector, and mining organizations. He has consulted with small and large, public and private organizations on strategic planning and implementation and executive team development.

Ronald K. Sable, Director

Ronald K. Sable is president of Concord Solutions Ltd., a business consulting practice for commercial and non-profit entities. He is Chairman of the Board of the University of Arizona Center for Leadership Ethics in the Eller College of Management, a member of the Board of Paragon Space Development Corporation, IDAir Corporation, and the DM 50. He was a senior executive at The Aerospace Corporation, and McDonnell Douglas Corporation, where he led government relations for the $18B firm.

Before joining McDonnell Douglas, he was Special Assistant to President Reagan for National Security Affairs. In that role he was the lead White House liaison with the U.S. Senate on defense, foreign policy, intelligence, arms control and banking issues.

He served as an Air Force pilot (Colonel) and was an Outstanding Graduate of the Air War College. A graduate of Iowa Wesleyan College (BS), he has an MS in International Relations from Southern Illinois University and a Doctorate of Humane Letters (honorary) from Iowa Wesleyan. He is a graduate of the Harvard University Program in National & International Security, the Wharton School Executive Program in Finance, the UCLA Anderson School Program in Mergers and Acquisitions, and the Capitol University School of Banking.

He is the former Chairman of the United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona and the recipient of the 2011 United Way "Live United" award for community service, he also is a recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award from Iowa Wesleyan, the George Washington Honor Medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross, Meritorious Service Medal and the Air Medal (3 OLC), and is a licensed commercial pilot with instrument and type rating.

His views on subjects ranging from board of director responsibilities to national security, ethics in leadership and the challenges of our environment have been featured at the United Nations, in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, Fast Company Magazine, The Arizona Star, and on NPR.

Executive Leadership Team

Russell A. Johnson, President & Chief Executive Officer

Russell A. Johnson, President & Chief Executive Officer of Merchants Information Solutions, Inc. since 2004, which is a leading Identity Theft prevention and restoration company.  Prior to his current role, he spent 20 years within the financial services industry, including past positions as a Senior Vice President with Bank of America and Wells Fargo.  He has numerous business, educational, and professional affiliations and is a respected leader in the Identity Theft Protection and Background Screening Industries.

Mr. Johnson holds a BS degree in Business Administration from the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse and is an alumnus of the Consumer Bankers Association - Graduate School of Bank Management at the University of Virginia.

He is a past Board Member and Treasurer of the Greater Phoenix Chamber and Co-chair of the Cybersecurity Workforce Collaborative.  Mr. Johnson currently serves as Chair of the Center for Leadership Ethics Advisory Board, University of Arizona- Eller College of Management and is Board Emeritus at the Maricopa Community Colleges Foundation.


Mark A. Pribish, Vice President & ID Theft Practice Leader

Mark A. Pribish, Vice President & ID Theft Practice Leader since 2005, has more than 25 years of experience in working with financial institutions, associations and Fortune 1000 companies throughout the United States. His background includes the marketing and sales of Identity Theft, Data Breach, Insurance, and Risk Management services.

Mr. Pribish has authored hundreds of articles and white papers and is frequently interviewed by local and national media as a Cyber Security, Identity Theft, and Data Breach Risk Management expert.

Prior to joining Merchants, Mr. Pribish was Senior Vice President for Aon Risk Services of Arizona, Inc., and National Sales Manager for AIG Life and AIG Environmental Banking Group. He is a graduate of the University of Dayton with a Bachelor of Arts.

Michael G. Mortensen, Vice President, Information Technology

Michael G. Mortensen, Vice President of Information Technology since 2007, has more than 20 years of experience in Information Technology, Accounting and Finance. Most recently he served as an Analyst with US Airways, supporting its merger with America West Airlines. Prior to that, he was the Vice President of Information Technology at APPS Software, a boutique software consulting firm headquartered in Scottsdale, AZ and also served as Financial Analyst for NDC Health Information Systems.

Stephen J. Swope, Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Stephen J. Swope, Vice President & Chief Financial Officer since 2004, has accumulated more than 20 years of experience in the finance and accounting arenas. Previously the CFO for Vital Processing Services in Tempe, he also held management positions with Wells Fargo and Bank of America.

He holds an MBA in Finance and a BS in Accounting from the University of Akron.

Mark Walker, Vice President, Business Development

Mark Walker, Vice President, Business Development

Mark Walker is an accomplished pre-employment hiring and best practices expert with decades of experience in the industry

Having consulted with many Fortune 100 companies in developing comprehensive programs, Mark has introduced many techniques including the use of behavioral testing such as IntegrityFirst to increase employee retention while reducing factors associated with a wrong hire, such as: workers compensation claims, negative employee behavior, theft, and safety incidents.

Mr. Walker has spoken at several client and partner sponsored events, focusing on how employers can avoid making a bad hire and the impact it has on their bottom line. He is often asked to present for national webcast series on behalf of sponsoring agencies to review the importance of Integrity Testing as an employment screening practice.  

His depth of experience, both domestic and international, affords him the ability to lean on his experiences when discussing hiring practices and their impact in the corporate environment. Mark has a deep understanding of how corporate cultures tie closely into the growth of an organization.

Prior to joining Merchants, Mark spent more than 15 years working for some of the largest employment screening service providers in roles including operations, account management and sales.  He received an MBA in General Management from Dowling College and a BA in Applied Psychology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.  

Consumer Testimonials

“What a fine team assisted me in my identity theft event.  To call her diligent is to understate her level of job performance.  She is both compassionate and professional. Thanks SO much for having such high quality people to help fraud victims in these trying (and annoying!) situations. Sincerely”. William P. We Florida Financial – Kelly

“I’m so thankful for my Recovery Advocate. She was the sweetest most caring person I have dealt with in a long time. She took her time & helped me with a recent inquiry that was either a loan or a credit card that I didn’t apply for by calling the company & she was very good at not backing down.  Once they said it was shipped to old address and in my former married name she knew it was identity theft. I haven’t lived there or had that name in 4 yrs and then she completed the disputes with all 3 credit bureaus. She was wonderful to deal with and I would recommend her to anyone.” Patsi F. Marion Center Bank ULT-ID – Rachel

“I loved talking with my Recovery Advocate and the assistance she provided”. Martin W. Minnco CU – Rachel

“I could not have assisted for a better or more professional person to assist me with my identity theft event.”   Kelly T. Northeast Community CU – Reyna

“Working with my Recovery Advocate was great. Thank you.”   Arvin B. First Community CU – Reyna

“Your Representative was quick to respond and pleasant to deal with. Many Thanks!”   David S. Service CU – Kelly

“Both Representatives I spoke with, were very helpful.”   Vicky W. Dacotah Bank – Rachel and Reyna

“It was comforting to have you assist me with my identity theft event. I’m pleased to know I have this coverage if ever needed again.”   Shelley C.  Service CU– Kelly

“My Advocate was easy to work with, knowledgeable, helpful and really nice.”   Teri B. Marion Center Bank- ULT ID – Martha

“Excellent assistance and service. Thank you.”   Richard B. ERIEBANK– Rachel

“My Fraud Specialists was a great help and very courteous and professional.”   Keri B. FNB and Trust Chickasha ULT-ID - Rosemarie

“My Advocate always talked in an easy and polite manner. You can tell she really cared about getting all my issues resolved.” Edna S. Minnco CU – Rachel

“All I have to say, is thank you for doing such a great job, period.” William P. We Florida – Kelly