Blogger (John in DC) Responds to Selling Phone Records

Cingular Wireless says 3rd parties buying your phone records is "an infinitesimally small problem" by John in DC - 1/08/2006 12:10:00 PM

"Mark Siegel, a spokesman for Cingular Wireless, said his company constantly is on guard against people trying to get at customer information. But he called the acquisition of call records 'an infinitesimally small problem' at his firm." - Washington Post, July

8, 2005

Really? Cingular thinks the fact that I was able to go online and with $110 and a click of a button get every single phone call made by my cell phone in the month of November in just a few hours "'an infinitesimally small problem' at his firm."

Well Cingular, your problem just got bigger.

It was cake for me to get Cingular phone records, as I reported yesterday. Took no effort whatsoever. So what part of the fact that anybody anywhere can get Cingular phone records with no effort whatsoever is "an infinitesimally small problem"?

And as for Cingular being "constantly on guard," well, I clicked my mouse and got the private phone records of one of your customers within hours, and with no effort. Also, the Washington Post article alerted Cingular last July to the company from which I got my records, and they're still up and running. So I'm not sure who at Cingular is "constantly only guard," but they need to be fired.

According to the Washington Post article, the phone companies claim they have no part in your information being shared. Experts say these resellers are probably use one of three methods to get your phone records: They might have someone on the inside at the carrier who sells the data. Spokesmen for the telephone companies said strict rules prohibiting such activity make this unlikely. But Joel Winston, associate director of the Federal Trade Commission's Financial Practices Division, said other types of data-theft investigations have shown that "finding someone on the inside to bribe is not that difficult."

Another method is "pretexting," in which the data broker or investiga- tor pretends to be the cell phone account holder and persuades the carrier's employees to release the information. The availability of Social Security numbers makes it easier to convince a customer service agent that the caller is the account holder.

Finally, someone seeking call data can try to get access to consumer accounts online.

Telephone companies, like other service firms, are encouraging their customers to manage their accounts over the Internet. Typically, the online capability is set up in advance, waiting to be activated by the customer. But many customers never do.

If the person seeking the records can figure out how to activate online account management in the name of a real customer before that customer does, the call records are there for the taking.

The article goes on to note that "phone companies view all these tactics as illegal." See, now that's funny. Because Cingular didn't have any interest in me passing along my evidence of the crime. They didn't want a copy of my records I'd received, nothing. If they really thought this was a crime, and actually cared, don't you think they'd want the proof?

Then again, perhaps Cingular considered my phone call "an infinitesimally small problem."

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