Feeds

Indian call centre credit card 'scam' exposed

Symantec renewal details end up on black market

Seven Steps to Software Security

An undercover investigation by the BBC has exposed evidence of the theft of credit card details by workers at an Indian call centre used by security giant Symantec.

A BBC reporter posing as a fraudster bought allegedly stolen but valid UK card details from a Delhi-based man, who denies any wrongdoing. Three of the victims of the scam had bought software renewals from a call centre which handles Symantec software licences.

In a statement, Symantec said it had launched an investigation into the incident, which is thought to be isolated. In the meantime it is offering credit monitoring services to the three confirmed victims.

The BBC ran a story alleging that they have purchased three credit card numbers from a call center that handles some Symantec customer transactions. Upon notification by the BBC of this situation, Symantec immediately launched an internal investigation. We are still determining the facts behind this allegation but there is no indication that Symantec's online network has been compromised.

As a precaution before we have finished our investigation, we are extending an offer for credit monitoring services to the three customers in question. As we continue our investigation, we will promptly notify any additional customers impacted by the situation and will take appropriate action to protect the interests of our customers. Any customer who believes they may have been impacted by this situation should email their contact information to: Global_Purchase_Query at symantec.com.

The BBC team latched onto the issue following a tip-off that put them in touch with a suspected credit card fence. They filmed subsequent meetings, one of which took place in a Delhi coffee shop. The BBC reporters were offered hundreds of plastic card details each week at a price of $10 dollars per card, more than double the online going rate.

Reporters agreed to buy a sample of 50 cards, receiving 14 initially at the meeting and a promise that the remainder would be sent by email later. The seller claimed the numbers were culled from call centres that handle telephone bills and mobile phone sales.

The BBC team found that the name and addresses details of card holders sold to them were consistently valid but the card numbers were invalid, usually because the supplied digits were out by one number. Around one in seven of the card details, however, were valid and referred to cards in active use by UK customers.

The BBC contacted the owners of these cards and warned them of the problem. Three of those affected had bought Norton subscriptions over the phone within hours of each other.

It's not the first time evidence of call centre fraud has been exposed by undercover reporters. Channel 4's Dispatches and The Sun newspaper have each run separate undercover operations to expose similar frauds over recent years.

Last month the Reg reported how an Indian call centre was under suspicion for using the identities of Britons to mount an insurance fraud scam.

The latest figures from banking industry association APACS, published on Thursday, show that card fraud losses reached £609.9m in 2008. Phone, internet and mail order (card-not-present) fraud made up £328.4m of this total, up from £290.5m in 2007.

Stolen credit card details are, of course, the mainstay of such fraudulent losses and why reports of fraud in Indian call centres merit attention. It's worth remembering that stolen card details come from numerous sources – skimming, hacking and mail interception being just three – with call centre-related scams probably making up only a tiny slice of the growing pie. ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
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
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
NEW, SINISTER web tracking tech fingerprints your computer by making it draw
Have you been on YouPorn lately, perhaps? White House website?
BMW's ConnectedDrive falls over, bosses blame upgrade snafu
Traffic flows up 20% as motorway middle lanes miraculously unclog
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Attackers raid SWISS BANKS with DNS and malware bombs
'Retefe' trojan uses clever spin on old attacks to grant total control of bank accounts
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.