Monday, March 23, 2009

Indian Call Centre Fraud and the BBC News

The BBC was very excited about its story "Overseas credit card scam exposed " that it ran on the Thursday night news bulletin.

While they did make some good points, they played too much for my liking on the fear around offshoring. the BBC were correct to highlight that India has no equivalent of the UK Data Protection Act and that consumers dealing with an overseas call centre need to appreciate UK legislation may not apply to their data.

The problem is that the main thrust of the report was on what appears to be the theft of data (ironically enough) from the call centre of the security firm Symantec. Data theft is an extensive problem, but it's not one that just happens in India. Only last week, CCF (the UK contact centre news site) was reporting that a British Airways call centre employee had been jailed for two and a half years for data theft. Similarly CCF also reported at the start of March that a Barclays call centre worker had been jailed for obtaining money by deception.

This isn't just a recent phenomenon - this blog has written on thefts at RBS and Barclays by call centre staff (see posts "Call centre worker gaoled for data theft" and "Security, Call Centres and Fraud "). In short theft by employees is a problem in call centres, as it is in many other businesses, but it's not just an Indian problem.


Anonymous said...

It is true that data theft can happen in any country, but at lest in the US and the UK, there are resources and recourse for victims. Good luck trying to call the police in Bangalore or Mumbai to get any help. The real issue is that the risk involved off shoring has no justification except to make more money for firms, at the expense of the security and well being of customers. There is no inherent reason to take on that risk except to make money. It is the victim of identity theft that pays the price.

Alex said...

Thank you for the comment. I think that's a very fair point.

It is much easier for a business to work multi-nationally than it is for an individual to cope with the consequences.

I feel strongly that most consumers have no idea what they're consenting to when they agree a blanket waiver that allows their data to be handled outside of the EU. I do think that where companies are offshoring, they need to be much clearer about what the implications are for consumer rights.