India acts on call centre fraud

Nationwide database for staff

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The Indian offshoring industry is taking action to counter security concerns raised by last week's arrest of three call centre workers for fraud.

The National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM) is planning a nationwide database of call centre staff who have security clearance. The register will be voluntary and will be up and running in four weeks, according to Sunil Mehta, vice president of Nasscom and quoted in the FT. He said it would be run by an external consultancy. Employers looking for staff will pay a fee to access it.

The problem is staff turnover within call centres is notoriously high - 40 per cent a year or more. So keeping the database up-to-date may prove expensive (perhaps they can outsource it). Call center work is not seen as a long-term career but as a first job for recent graduates who move quickly on to better, more interesting, things.

Jerry Mao, chairman of Mphasis, the firm hit by fraud last week, told the FT that the three staff arrested did not have criminal records meaning it is unlikely that any screening programme would have picked them up. Some leading offshoring firms already follow European or US data protection standards.

Analysts Forrester initially predicted the bad news could reduce India's call centre growth by as much as 30 per cent. They are reportedly considering cutting that figure because of the lack of mainstream media coverage the incident received. ®

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