INDIA: BPO's do it again, Aussie data on sale

Undercover reporters working for ABC TV claim that a call center in India offered them personal information of 1,000 Australian citizens for a fee

The Times of India
Tuesday, August 16, 2005

New Delhi -- It's Karan Bahree reloaded for India's burgeoning and scam-tainted call centre industry. Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC) has alleged that employees of a Gurgaon-based call centre are illegally selling personal information of thousands of Australians for as little as 10 Australian dollars (Rs 335) per person.

The accusation comes at a time when India is working hard to convince the world that the data with its call centres are safe. In June, the British tabloid Sun claimed that Bahree, an employee of a Gurgaon call centre, divulged personal details of over 1,000 Britons for $5 per head.

ABC TV in a preview of Four Corners programme by undercover journalists claimed that its reporters were offered names, addresses, telephone numbers, birth details, medicare numbers, driver's licence numbers, ATM card numbers and even passport information of 1,000 Australians.

Four Corners said it was offered, through an unidentified broker, a deal on the information, but it turned down the bargain. The leaked information would enable fraudsters to assume false identities for online transactions, ABC said.

ABC was able to verify that the information belonged to real people.

Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC), through a programme aired on Monday night, has claimed that a call centre in Gurgaon is divulging personal details of Australians.

Though it did not divulge details of the purchase, ABC said a sample of identifications included personal details of Diane and Keith Poole. ABC neither named the company operating the call centre nor the journalist who had earlier conducted a similar sting operation at a call centre in Gurgaon.

Australia's attorney-general Philip Ruddock said he had asked the federal police to look into ABC's allegations. He said he was unaware of any evidence of customers' details being sold, but wanted the charges to be probed.

When contacted by TOI, Kiran Karnik, president of India's IT industry body Nasscom, sought to play down the incident.

"I haven't seen the programme but it just seems to be a follow-up of the Bahree case rather than being a fresh incident. But, let me also assure you that India is among the safest processing hubs around," he said.

The ABC programme quotes Karnik as saying: "I can assure every Australian customer whose data is being handled in India that in a comparative sense at least, this is among the safest places."