Who has been buying customer contract data from T-Mobile?
Although the comments of Bitterwallet readers suggest a far more widespread problem, T-Mobile has been forced to admit it is the mobile provider cited by the ICO as selling customer's contract information to third parties. T-Mobile has stated that the members of staff involved had acted in the matter without their knowledge; the ICO is now preparing a prosecution against those responsible.
The big question that needs answering is - who has been buying your contract information?
In its press release, the ICO states that "many thousands" of customer's account details had been sold "to several brokers and that substantial amounts of money have changed hands". A middleman may mean the identity of the third party buyers remained unidentified, although how the data was used is made clear by the ICO:
"It is alleged that the information was being sold on to the service provider’s competitors whose agents were using the material to cold call customers prior to contract expiry dates to offer them an alternative contract."
T-Mobile's competitors obviously involve other service providers such as Orange (which is due to merge with T-Mobile), O2, Vodafone and Three, though it's highly doubtful the major networks would risk the wrath of Ofcom by buying customer data. It seems more likely that the records were bought by one or more independent retailers.
As an aside, Bitterwallet reader Will points us to an email from T-Mobile sent in May, after he complained about cold calls when his contract was due for renewal. Will took his contract out through a third party, and T-Mobile lays the blame firmly at door of independent mobile companies for "passing customer information on... to other companies" (see the full email here):
So if you've received cold calls from a company other than your network or the independent retailer who supplied your contract, who were they? Let's have some names, people. Not that we're accusing them of paying T-Mobile staff for customer data - we'd just like you to recount your experiences of cold calling.