T-Mobile Leaks Thousands Of Customers’ Personal Data

The UK’s fourth largest mobile phone provider T-Mobile has revealed that thousands of customers personal contractual information has been sold illegally by their staff to third party brokers, and has informed the UK’s data commissioner, who is preparing a prosecution of the case. The news has been accompanied by a call from many interested parties for an increase in punishment for this kind of offence, which currently does not carry a prison sentence, but can be highly financially lucrative. The maximum fine stands at £5,000 at present.

What Happened? Am as yet unspecified number of T-Mobile staff – acting entirely outside of the companies knowledge – sold personal contractual information relating to T-Mobile customers to a third party broker. This information is particularly valuable to rival mobile phone companies, who can use information about the expiry date of customer’s contracts to ensure that they call up with an attractive counter offer at the correct time, and so steal T-Mobile’s business. This kind of data sale is increasingly common, and made easy by the development of fast and easy to hide USB hard drives, which can transfer vast quantities of data extremely quickly.

How Will It Affect Me? Unless you’re a T-Mobile customer, it won’t. If you are a T-Mobile customer, you’re still unlikely to be affected, unless you happen to be one of the customers whose information was sold. If this is the case, there are no reported incidents of personal information being abused for any purpose other than cold calling in order to persuade customers nearing the end of their contract to change networks. At first glance, credit card and other more sensitive information doesn’t appear to have been abused. While it hasn’t been revealed specifically which T-Mobile customers have had information taken, if you have received such a call, it’s more than likely that your data is amongst the information that’s been traded. Fortunately, in reality the worst case scenario in this case is probably an irritating cold call, while the best is a better contract next time round. The real loser in this case is T Mobile, rather than their customers.

The UK branch of T-Mobile already has plans in place to merge their business with larger rival Orange, and currently employ around 6,500 staff. They have already identified the personnel responsible for the security breach, and informed the Information Commissioner as soon as the information was in their hands in order to push forward prosecution. The data breach is the biggest of its kind in UK history.

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