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Friday, October 27, 2006

Lousy Call Centre Security Puts You At Risk

Poor security at Indian call centers resulted in the theft and illegal trading of personal financial information, according to charges raised in a report by the London-based Channel 4, which broadcast the results of a 12-month investigation on October 5th.

Channel 4's Dispatches program reported that it has discovered data protection breaches at several Indian call centers. Dispatches claims that confidential information on UK mobile phone customers, as well as their credit or debit card details, have been gathered and sold to third parties.

The Information Commissioner's Office, a UK government data privacy watchdog, says it is investigating the claims made by Channel 4.

"It appears that some mobile phone companies' call centers in India are being targeted by criminals intent on unlawfully obtaining UK citizens' financial records and this will be the focus of our investigation," the Information Commissioner’s Office says in a statement.

Dispatches reporters discovered a phenomenon known as "data farming" in which unauthorized harvesting of personal information is sold on at a profit. The program alleged that some Indian call centre workers are involved in the scam, gathering data from customers before selling it on to brokers.

"What has been happening is that UK customers phone a mobile phone company's call centre, which is located in India, and they are asked for their bank or credit card details as part of a credit check," a Channel 4 spokeswoman said. "For example, they will be asked for their card number, expiry date and verification code, the three-digit code that is displayed on the back of their card. This information is then stored on the call centre's computer system and it is then illegally accessed."

In the program, an undercover reporter is shown obtaining personal financial data from an Indian middleman. The data includes full banking and financial profiles. The data was not taken from bank call centers, but from call centers working for UK mobile phone operators.

Indian IT trade association Nasscom criticised Channel 4 after the London-based TV station refused to show the organization any of the footage before the broadcast. Nasscom called on Channel 4 to co-operate in rooting out and prosecuting any "corrupt" call centre workers.

Source Citadel Advantage

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