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Survey: Call centre data standards 'routinely ignored'

Poor practice creates 'vast reservoir of sensitive data'

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More than 95% of call centres were found to store customers' credit card details in recordings of phone conversations in breach of industry rules, according to a survey conducted by a call recording technology company.

Veritape said that when it talked to 133 call centre managers, only 39% of them knew about industry rules against the storing of the information and just 3% of them wiped credit card numbers from recordings of phone calls. Veritape provides call recording services to the call centre industry.

"The routine practice of storing unedited audio recordings of calls is creating a vast reservoir of sensitive data on the servers of call centres across the UK, in direct breach of global industry standards drawn up by the Payment Card Industry Data Security Council," said a Veritape statement.

The industry guidelines are contained in the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), which governs how companies should treat data, whether they be physical shops, websites or call centre sales operations.

Veritape pointed out that one clause of the Standard forbids the storing of the three digit verification number on the back of cards in transactions conducted remotely. "Sensitive authentication data must not be stored after authorization (even if encrypted)," says a footnote to the Standard highlighted by Veritape.

Veritape said that its survey of 133 call centre managers found that of the 97% who did not comply with this rule in relation to audio recordings, 61% did not know of the rule, 18% said it would be too difficult or expensive to comply, 11% were ignoring the issue and 6% were working to become compliant.

“What we have is a global industry standard that is routinely ignored by call centres throughout the UK,” said Cameron Ross, managing director of Veritape. “The storage of this actionable data creates a huge reservoir of sensitive information that is putting the financial resources of millions of people at risk."

Veritape said that its software records phone calls and can process data contained within calls, acting, it said, "as a powerful telephone search engine".

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