Cingular Wireless Battles 'Data Burglars'
Cingular Wireless has obtained temporary restraining orders against three companies, Data Find Solutions, Locatecell.com, and 1st Source Information Specialists, which have been selling private phone records of Cingular customers to anyone willing to pay for them. Cingular began taking legal action last week when it obtained the restraining orders from the U.S. District Court in Atlanta.
According to Cingular, employees at these organizations masquerade as cell phone customers, or even as Cingular employees, to obtain confidential information from customer service representatives. That information, which can include private cell phone numbers and actual call records, is then sold for a fee. There are dozens of such services available, mostly through the Web.
"Cingular will not tolerate the theft of customer records," said Joaquin Carbonell, executive vice president and general counsel for Cingular Wireless, in a written statement. "We plan to continue fighting cell phone record theft on a number of fronts, including working with law enforcement and policymakers to crack down on Web sites that offer cell phone records for sale."
While these companies typically refer to themselves as data brokers, the name doesn't imply what these companies really do, according to the company. "We call them data burglars," said Mark Siegel, a spokesman for Cingular, in a statement. "Nothing is more important to us than the privacy of our customers' records."
According to Locatecell.com's Web site, the company will provide a list of 100 outbound calls for $110 to $125. The company also will supply any cell phone number for $95, and the name and address of a cell phone customer for $65. Information from Data Find Solutions and 1st Source Information Specialists is less specific.
In November, Verizon Wireless filed a similar lawsuit against a Florida-based agency and it affiliates, accusing them of engaging in similar practices.
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