Wednesday 26 June 2019

Vodafone customers exposed to potential privacy breach

Stock image
Stock image

Sean Duffy

The Data Protection Commissioner is to investigate if Vodafone mobile and broadband customers have been exposed to a potential privacy breach.

That’s after it emerged that anyone can check the balance on any Vodafone customer’s account with a simple phone call.

Anyone calling the Vodafone customer careline can enter any Vodafone phone number and automatically hear the balance information – even if it is not their own phone and without the account holder's permission.

The breach could have implications for both private companies and individual citizens.

Callers to the Vodafone customer care line are asked to select an option either for their own account or to select another phone.

By simply selecting another account, the company asks for a number to be keyed into the system. When that number is entered details of the outstanding balance are automatically given. Checking the balance does not require the consent of the account holder and is not protected by a security question or password.

In statement, Vodafone said it: “does not view this as a data protection breach on the basis that the balance given is not identifiable personal data.”

“The privacy of Vodafone’s customers is afforded the highest priority and the company continuously seeks feedback from our customers on the services we provide as well as regularly reviewing the IVR (interactive voice response) functionality.

"Customer feedback tells us that this is a valuable service for many customers who wish to access details on the status of their balance via the Vodafone IVR

In a statement, the office of the Data Protection Commission said it had not received any complaints about the situation, but is now planning on looking into the issue.

Vodafone is one of Ireland’s largest phone and broadband provider in Ireland with 2.4 million customers.

The company reported revenues of €953m last year due to its strong market share in the fixed-line and broadband markets. 

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