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Call centres: The Great Data Theft

'Good morning ma'am, my name is Vandana Narayanan, could I please speak to Ms. so&so please.....' If I had a penny for every time a Vandana or an Anil or a Kumar called me from a call centre, I would be a very rich woman. There is no escaping these call centres, they have got us covered. Morning, noon, night - they are there to rouse you out of bed, interrupt your tea, crash in on your family dinners, time after time. That was all they were to me, a nuisance.

Sue Turton has changed all that. On Thursday night's episode of 'Dispatches: The Data Theft Scandal', she brought to the fore what we all fear deep down - some faceless person getting their grubby hands on our personal and financial data and using it to their own means. To find out more about this, Sue visits various places and people across the UK and in India. And what she finds out is fascinating - and more than a little scary.

Turton goes to India to try and find out how easy it is to get the confidential data we innocent people give over the phone on a regular basis, to these nameless strangers. To her own surprise, it turns out to be a not-too difficult task. Posing as a businesswoman who is interested in getting the financial details of UK customers, she soon makes contact with a Mr Arora. He turned out to be a fount of information, this Arora, as he shows her page after page of data 'leads', detailing a caller's name, bank account number, bank sort code, credit card number, the CVV security number etc. Turton tries to disguise her shock by enquiring if this isn't illegal but Arora flatly states 'not at all'!

Then onto Calcutta, where enterprising Mr Chandak goes one step further and proves the authenticity of his 'leads' by playing the voice files of actual telephone conversation between his call centre agent and the unsuspecting caller. All this info for just £8!

In the UK, she talks to a convicted felon who tells how difficult it is to get the data from the call centres. Furthermore, he tells of the number of people who join these call centres with the aim of getting their hands on such data and making money out of them. While in the UK, one has to go via the underworld to get such info, in India, it seems much more easier to lay one's hands on extremely confidential data.

There are brokers whose 'job' is to play the role of middlemen, between the call centres and the buyers, who pay tens of thousands to get hold of these 'hot leads'. What's even more shocking is the role played by the technicians, who come into such places to maintain the hardware and walk away with millions of data stored in the pen drives. 'You wink and it is done', boasts one such middle man.

Then there are these high-class brokers in Hyderabad, who charge upwards of $50 per lead - why? 'Cos theirs is fresh and unused!

Sue Turton, over the course of a year, has managed to open a massive can of worms. The repercussions of this investigation will be manifold. Here in the UK, there's going to be a great deal of panic amongst the public and this would undoubedly be fanned by the media and others disgruntled by the shifting of operations to countries like India and China. Indian government is also going to be under some pressure to put the foreign investors' minds at rest and assure them of data protection. The great boom in the Indian economy owes a great deal to the call centres, BPOs and other associated industries - which could come down like a house of cards if these companies decide to up sticks and move out, en masse.

Will our government step-up? Will we see a marked decrease in call centre-related crimes? We'll know soon! Until then, keep safe!

Posted by DesiGirl 12:24 am  

1 Comment:

  1. shark said...
    Hah! People can't USE anything properly! They always have to find a way to MISUSE stuff! Too much!
    Yes It's quite scary.. I think the age old technique of going to a bank and meeting an executive there is much better than these things!

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