India call centers stealing Brits' personal data

Call center workers in India allegedly sold customer personal data to criminals and marketing firms in U.K., according to undercover report.

Indian call centers are reportedly selling confidential personal data, including credit card details and medical records of more than 500,000 Britons.

News daily The Daily Mail reported that data was being sold by "corrupt Indian call center workers" to criminals and marketing firms. It cited an undercover investigation by The Sunday Times--where two Indians, claiming to be IT workers, had met undercover reporters and "boasted" having 45 different sets of personal information.

The data had included names, addresses, phone numbers of credit card holders, start and expiry dates and the three-digit security and verification codes.

The information--most of them from customers of major financial companies such as HSBC and NatWest--are a resource for criminals, enabling fraudsters to steal money from bank accounts within minutes.

Other information that had been hawked by the workers included sensitive data on mortgages, loans, insurance and phone contracts and Sky Television subscriptions. The report noted that the data would enable direct marketing companies to target customers more effectively.

One of the Indians, Naresh Singh, reportedly met the undercover reporters in a hotel room in Gurgaon, near Delhi. He was allegedly carrying a laptop full of stolen data.

"These are the ones that have been sold to somebody already. This is Barclays, this is Halifax, this is Lloyds TSB. We've been dealing so long we can tell the bank by just the card number," Singh reportedly said, adding that most of the data was less than 72 hours old.

Call centers are a US$5 billion industry in India, employing 330,000 people, the report said.

Last month, U.S. federal officers had also accused Indian call centers of being involved in cheating millions of dollars out of Americans. Callers had reportedly used personal data on their victims obtained from payday loan websites.