An unspecified number of Philippine call center agents have stolen private information of customers and sold them to third parties. This is according to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which recently fined AT&T the amount of $25 million for security breach or for failing to protect the privacy of their clients.
The FCC said that on various separate occasions, certain AT&T call center agents from the Philippines, Mexico, and Colombia have been found stealing sensitive data of nearly 280,000 customers. This includes names, phone numbers, Social Security numbers and Customer proprietary network information (CPNI).
According to the official statement of the FCC, the stolen private information was sold to a group called ‘El Pelon,’ as confessed by at least two AT&T employees who have participated in the crime. AT&T has already agreed to pay the $25 million fine, which is now considered as the largest fine ever imposed by the FCC.
The privacy compromise was said to have affected 290,803 AT&T customers from the three countries. The FCC investigation revealed that the series of incidents happened between November 2013 and April 2014. However, AT&T said that the security breach in the Philippines was only discovered this year, 2015.
“Protecting customer privacy is critical to us. We hold ourselves and our vendors to a high standard. Unfortunately, a few of our vendors did not meet that standard and we are terminating vendor sites as appropriate.” AT&T said in the statement, regarding the case.
We’ve changed our policies and strengthened our operations. And we have, or are, reaching out to affected customers to provide additional information.” The American telecom company added, which ended its contract with Mexico last September.
But while AT&T still continues its contract with the Philippine call centers as well as in Colombia, the company said that all their concerned employees have been fired from their jobs. In addition to the fine, AT&T has been required to inform all their affected customers and shall provide credit-monitoring services.
As of posting, the Philippine government has not yet conducted its own investigation regarding this issue. President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III signed into a law the Data Privacy Act (or Republic Act 10173) back in September 2012. But according to this law, a National Privacy Commission still has to be created.
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