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Carphone & TalkTalk Blasted for Exposing Customer Data

The ICO, i.e., Information Commissioner's Office, has warned that Carphone Warehouse and its associate organization TalkTalk could be prosecuted and charged an exorbitant fine for leaking out the personal information of numerous clients, with some being under pressure from debt collectors as a consequence.

According to officials at the ICO, Carphone Warehouse and TalkTalk were engaged in issuing customers online accounts under false names and providing incorrect information to debt collection bodies and credit reference companies.

Also, nearly 4,000 online customers of the two companies were wrongly connected to someone else's account, thereby receiving other customers' e-mails and also unknowingly accessing their personal information such as names, phone numbers and addresses over the Internet.

The ICO said that it also came to know that the erring companies had not furnished customers with replies who requested for information about them that the organizations held. The first complaints from customers to the ICO poured in during 2007 and more followed.

Besides these problems, customers for broadband, landline and mobile phone of both Carphone and TalkTalk discovered that they could not take out mortgages or loans due to incorrect credit records.

ICO's Assistant Commissioner, Mick Gorrill, said that Carphone and TalkTalk's dealing with inaccurate personal data is causing real distress and damage to customers. Thus, the commissioner has ordered the companies to adopt necessary action to sufficiently protect personal information of their customers, Gorrill said. Pcadvisor published Gorrill's statement on January 17, 2008.

Meanwhile, by issuing Enforcement Notices to Carphone Warehouse and TalkTalk, the ICO has ordered the companies to abide by the rules of the Data Protection Act. The watchdog said that if the two companies failed to satisfactorily apply remedial action, then they could face prosecution, which could even lead to a fine of a maximum of £5,000 under the rules of the magistrate court or any amount of fine under the rules of the crown court.

Responding to the ICO's deliberations, Carphone Warehouse said that it is aware about its customers' concerns, which it attributed to the introduction of TalkTalk's free broadband. Carphone said that the two companies are taking the issues seriously.

» SPAMfighter News - 1/25/2008

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