Feeds

US calls sale scandal picks up steam

Writs fly as lawmakers take action

Seven Steps to Software Security

The scandal over the sale of mobile phone call records to data brokers in the US is gaining momentum. T-Mobile, the number four US mobile operator, has obtained an injunction against two firms - Data Find Solutions and 1st Source Information Specialists - that it alleges have illegally obtained customer records, Reuters reports.

The same two firms were the subject of a similar restraining order obtained by Cingular last week. 1st Source offer its services through online sites including locatecell.com and celltolls.com. Data Find Solutions is thought to have sold these websites to 1st Source.

Dozens of data brokers in the US make a business selling call records - sometimes obtained from phone company insiders or by deception - for about $100 per account per month. Data brokers commonly impersonate consumers in order to obtain access to call records, a practice called pretexting.

The chief market for these call records is private investigators, but an investigation by the Chicago Sun Times suggests the information is available to anyone who's prepared to pay. Few or no checks are applied over the identity of the person requesting information.

US lawmakers are pushing forward with plans to make it illegal to use deception to obtain phone records. A bipartisan group of senators are backing a bill that would make it a crime to make false statements in order to obtain consumers' phone records.

It would also become an offence for phone company workers to sell these call records to third parties without customer permission. Meanwhile, regulators at the Federal Communications Commission are investigating (PDF statement) whether mobile phone firms have done enough to prevent sensitive data from leaking out.

Scammers are taking advantage of user concern and confusion over the sale of call records to dupe users into signing up to unofficial "do not call" registers. The growing use of the ruse has prompted an official statement from the Federal Trade Commission, the US consumer watchdog organisation, advising consumers that their phone numbers are not about to be released to telemarketers in the near future. "It is not necessary to register cell phone numbers on the national Do Not Call (DNC) Registry to be protected from most telemarketing calls to cell phones," it said. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
Apple orders huge MOUNTAIN of 80 MILLION 'Air' iPhone 6s
Bigger, harder trouser bulges foretold for fanbois
GoTenna: How does this 'magic' work?
An ideal product if you believe the Earth is flat
Telstra to KILL 2G network by end of 2016
GSM now stands for Grave-Seeking-Mobile network
Seeking LTE expert to insert small cells into BT customers' places
Is this the first step to a FON-a-like 4G network?
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
BlackBerry: Toss the server, mate... BES is in the CLOUD now
BlackBerry Enterprise Services takes aim at SMEs - but there's a catch
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.