Holding AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) responsible for its failure to safeguard the social security numbers pertaining to customers’, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) has slapped it with a hefty fine of $25 million.
The fine is touted to be the heaviest fine in terms of data security and privacy violations.
It is believed that workforce of AT&T call centers in the Philippines, Mexico, and Colombia had a hand in stealing the names and social security numbers of 280,000 customers of the wireless company’s in the US. The employees are alleged to have passed on the information to the parties. Further, the pilfered data was extensively used to take up unlock requests for the linked phones through AT&T’s website, thereby facilitating the phones to be resold into the market.
The security breaches took place during the period of 2013-2014 at AT&T’s call centers spreading over Colombia, Mexico, and the Philippines.
The Federal Commission in a press release said that all the guilty were dismissed from service forthwith.
“The commission cannot remain as a mute spectator when the rights of thousands of customers are at stake,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.
The settlement formula worked out by the FCC stipulates that the imposed fine needs to be deposited within one month. Also, the wireless major will have to be hard- pressed to inform all the impacted customers that they are covered with credit-monitoring services.
The wireless major, on its part, tried to limit the damage control saying that the company shelved contract with the Mexican call centers in September last year itself. Allaying concerns over the safety of a social security number of customers, the AT& T clarified that new measures have been taken to ensure that such incidents do not recur.
As part of its avowed commitment, AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) has consented to beef up its data security practices. Besides, it is mandated to recruit a compliance manager, who is well-versed in privacy issues and can submit compliance reports to the FCC at regular intervals.