UPDATE: T-Mobile staff sell customer details to cold callers

17 November 2009

1720 update - PA has confirmed that the mobile service provider under investigation by the ICO is T-Mobile.

"T-Mobile customers' personal information was passed to third parties "without our knowledge", a spokesman confirmed today."

Scary biscuits. A breaking news story today from the ICO, one that explains how those dubious cold calling companies know when you're due to upgrade your mobile:

Investigators at the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) have been working with a mobile telephone company after the firm suggested employees allegedly sold details relating to customers’ mobile phone contracts, including their contract expiry dates. 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. The service provider has alleged that many thousands of customer account details have been unlawfully obtained.

The ICO has investigated and it appears that the information has been sold on to several brokers and that substantial amounts of money have changed hands. The ICO has obtained several search warrants and attended a number of premises, and is now preparing a prosecution file.

The ICO are withholding the name of the mobile service provider, pending what seems an inevitable court case. We can't say we're surprised that evidence has been uncovered - far too many people have received cold calls from unrelated third parties who seem to know more details than they should - and it's more of a surprise this is only coming to light now. Let's see who the culprit turns out to be - one company in particular springs to mind in the Bitterwallet office.

TOPICS:   Scams   Privacy


  • Rob B.
    I'm sure it was all innocent, they wanted you to get the best deal so they did it '4U' ....
  • IfYouCopyMyNameYouAreGay
    Gotta be T-Mobile...
  • ElBuc
    Yep, T-mobile.
  • kyle
    Personally I wouldn't be suprised to find out it was Orange
  • speedski
    I was gonna say Orange - I got spammed to shit when I came up for renewal two years running. Irgnore the latest stuff, i bet whichever network did it did it a few years ago now...
  • Joe B.
  • David
    Happened to me on T-mobile...
  • Rob B.
    Would that not be a mobile operator rather than 'Mobile Phone Company' ?...
  • Jeffrey A.
    Ahum, T-Mobile. Happened to me as well. Scum. Hope they all catch aids of the face.
  • Tolkny
    I am with T Mobile and it has happened several times to me. T Mobile denied it was them and blamed their agent who set up my contract. That would not surprise me either, as they provide very poor after sales yet are very prompt at chasing me at contract renewal time.
  • Rob
    could it be the Carfone Whorehouse ?
  • Brian
    It's happened to me on T-Mobile too. They denied all knowledge of it, of course, even though I went straight to them for the contract.
  • Andrew
    They're all at it.... wankers
  • Esarty
    Yep - all wankers
  • OD
    this happened to me after going through phones4u.
  • negbobsquarepants
    How come the council were allowed to sell our details on for so long? I constantly get mail addressed to the same incorrect name which just happens to match my council tax bill... p.s. I get them on my wifes and my own T-Mobile contract.
  • Jeffrey A.
    I think they all do it to be honest. And they should all be buried alive in their own shit.
  • Q
    i'd say o2, both me and my mate on o2 were hassled around renewal date with 3rd party calls. Perhaps they should be investigating all the other usual suspects
  • kyalion
    My guess is Voda. Had Orange and countless calls as I was coming to end of contract. Never had any when coming to end of contract with Voda.
  • Tolkny
    If the comments here are indicative of anything ICO have just began to scratch the surface. This is the sort of outrage I believe Government should prevent, absolutely.
  • Amanda H.
    and the army.
  • Paul S.
    It's T-Mobile - story has just broke on PA.
  • MickeyB
    From the sounds of it they all do it. I know o2 do. It's just a matter of which dumbass company got caught, my money's on Three.
  • NobbyB
    I hope they accidently leak the salesman's name and address and phone number. More seriously, they should jail anyone found guilty of selling on data.
  • Mark M.
    o2 as well IMO... i keep getting phone calls from companies knowing my contract is in the last three months.. they'll all be at it i think, so we'll see more of the same crop up soon
  • Simon B.
    All the T Mobile contracts I have bought for work have been hammered by Cold Call monkeys. That didn't happen with the previous Voda contracts, but now the numbers are on the lists they will probably be hounded for the rest of our days.
  • Paul
    Anyone know how this effects people's contracts with them? Can this be classed as breach of contract? I certainly did not wish for my information to be passed on (and judging by the number of calls I got after first receiving the contract it has).
  • I w.
    I wonder if the Orange merger will still happen...this could be interesting for the rest of T-mobile too - lawsuits ahoy, no one needs the saddlebags of an idiot when they merge dumb and dumber....
  • mrluke
    gotta be t-mobile ! I hate t-mobile with passion !!! im so glad my contract ends with them next month - 18th months of complete crapness !
    T-Mobile will get finned a lot...they will recover this by increasing the cost of "ADDITIONAL SERVICES" and we will get a repeat of Roaming Charge issue! thats what i predict
  • raj
    T-Mobile are the worst! hope they have to cancel all contracts for all customers! they will get what they deserve from this and the Roaming Rate thing!
  • Will
    I emailed T-Mobile about this back in May, Heres the email: http://img20.imageshack.us/img20/347/tmobile.png I have now replied quoting the BBC article posted, I look forward to there response!!!
  • Hummy
    This is depressing!
  • whogivesa
    I can't think of a less worrying breach of data security than this. You basically are getting a wake-up call that your current contract can be terminated, you get an offer from a competing company, you get a chance to play 2 companies off against each other. What's the problem? Like a previous respondent I was much more concerned at the council passing my details to various parties, in fact I wasn't aware that this had stopped.
  • anon
    Having worked (and still do, unfortunately) within the industry for a long time, this stuff is rife...It's just T-Mobile got caught...These companies should start to get hammered for this, but like someone said, It'll just get clawed back through the consumer, the victims of this whole thing in the first place. Everyone's selling your details and they make it harder and harder for you to opt out sometimes even making you put in a written request. I'd like to see T-Mobile get handed a record fine to make other companies think twice about doing this, but it won't happen.
  • Brian
    Hi, Brian here. I'm on O2, so should be "safe".
  • Who B.
    [...] 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 [...]
  • Div
    So, will this give tmobile customers an "out"?
  • willywanka
    they're all at it, wankers
  • Div
    interesting..... http://www.t-mobile.co.uk/services/privacy/our-promise/
  • KJ
    was definately going to be t-mobile, my fiance and I are both with t-mobile and everytime my contract is about to expire they call me. Now, this happens every frigging time, and they keep hammering u with calls. I suspect t-mobile will be heavily fined, but to be honest it happens in other industries; there was a program on BBC about employees for a bank in an indian call centre selling information to other companies. This kind of breach is old news, just happens to go on TV every now and then.
  • James
    If you read the T-Mobile privacy policy (see link below) it says in plain and simple English we will only share your information with other parties that T-Mobile hold a business relationship with....... I would suggest unless it says otherwise this is a breach of the contract that you sign up to.... Breach means a contract can be terminated as far as iam concerned!!!! I for one shall be emailing t-mobile to state the above to them!! https://www.t-mobile.co.uk/content/pdf/tcs_cvn_55.pdf
  • Lumoruk
    I was getting these on O2 so I don't really see how it's isolated to T-Mobile?
  • Chris
    James, and how will you prove YOUR data was passed on?
  • The B.
    Hmmm, let's see now, the ICO, they've been around for what nearly 10 years and in that time they've brought how many successful prosecutions? Even by civil service standards they're inept.
  • Lenny L.
    I happened to receive a call from the 'Phone House' which is basically Carphone Warehouse, they not only knew the expire date on the contract but also the additional numbers under the contract. They rang all the numbers and spoke to each person in turn over a period of 4 hours. Each claimed to operating on behalf of T-Mobile. Then during the early evening I receive a txt from T-Mobile saying 'my order had been processed and that it had been duly dispatched'. Aftert contacting T-Mobile I subsequently learn that someone posing as me had order 2 new Sony phones, changed my account address and renewed the contract!! The phones have already been dispatched, but i was totally astonished that no security checks had been done in order to stop this from happening. There has now been a password placed on the account, but it's too late for the phones. The address details have been given to the Fraud Dept., so T-Mobile reckon. Strange how all this has taken place in a single day. Alas I shall be leaving T-Mobile and will searching for a new contract with another phone company.
  • Chi I.
    Hello, I'm a BBC reporter doing a long term story on this. I need to talk to someone who's been cold called by a rival phone company or a debt management company. Or increasingly been text by one claiming they know of the 'accident' you never had. Im trying to specifically find someone who's tried to trace how these cold calling companies have managed to get their personal mobile phone number. If you require anonymity regarding this, it is not a problem to provide. Any information anyone can help me with, would be fabulous. Please feel free to contact me at: [email protected] Once again thank you for your help. Chi
  • Emme
    Cell Phone Text Message Phishing Scam: On Jan. 17, 2011 at 5:54 pm, they wrote: "Your 511165 Debit Card Has Been Frozen". Contact: 7184394664 From: 3711" I am worried because phishing scam artists now have access to my cell phone number. When I contacted T-Mobil today the employees claimed that my information was not given to third parties. I have received nothing but rude customer service when I ask for the original terms of agreement of my contract. This is upsetting & frustrating to say the least. I work in the media and I never give my personal info out to anyone & that includes my email as well.
  • IAX P.
    Usually I don't learn post on blogs, but I wish to say that this write-up very pressured me to check out and do it! Your writing style has been surprised me. Thank you, quite great article.
  • Bernardine C.
    Maybe one particular with the most made use of seats inside your household could be the kitchen bar stool. When 1 thinks of this item, they may possibly envision a youngster sitting on it doing homework when mom or dad prepare dinner.

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