Indian call centres sell sensitive UK credit card details

Published on 1 January 1970 by Raffick Marday

Call centres in India have been passing on the credit card details of over 500,000 Brits to criminals and marketing firms.

The data includes names, addresses, phone numbers of credit card holders, start and expiry dates. This is in addition to the three-digit security codes on the back of cards used to verify purchases.

An undercover investigation by the Sunday Times has revealed that credit card information, medical and financial records have all been up for sale from as little as 2 pence.

IT workers who claimed to work at several call centres met undercover reporters and boasted of having 45 different sets of personal information on up to 500,000 Brits.

The information was related to customers of leading financial institutions such as HSBC and NatWest.

Speaking to the reporters in a hotel room in Gurgaon, a town outside of Delhi IT consultant Naresh Singh showed them the stolen information: “These [pieces of data] are 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.”

He added that the bulk of the information would be less than 73 hours old: “They would just have got the credit card and not only credit cards, that would be debit card as well.”

The call centre industry in India is worth around £3.2 billion a year with an estimated 330,000 employees.

A large number of British companies have outsourced to India as a cheaper alternative. Despite this, a number of public complaints have led to companies withdrawing from India. Leading Spanish bank, Santander announced last year that it would no longer use Indian call centres.

A lack of credit card security could lead to fraud and ID theft. Prepaid credit cards, however, are not linked to any bank accounts and have a much lower security risk.

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