Spam calls galore as personal data on sale

At a time when online frauds are increasing, data theft and unwarranted sharing of personal details are being done for commercial gains

Hyderabad: When you regularly get spam calls, asking questions like whether you are looking to own some real estate in the city outskirts or wanting to take a personal loan, it means that ‘data providers’ have illegally sold your personal data to businesses.

At a time when online frauds are increasing exponentially, data theft and unwarranted sharing of personal details are being done for commercial gains.

Data is not too difficult to obtain in Hyderabad. When a DC correspondent posed as an employee of a financial services company, the data providers based in Ameerpet and Hitec City offered sale of ‘fresh’ data of one lakh high-salaried employees for as little as Rs 3,000 to Rs 8,000.

The data consists of name, mobile number, company and designation of the employees. Mostly, these are of the IT industry.

These gangs also offered to share the data of high-income individuals from various industries as also businessmen. This kind of data is made use of by online scammers who resort to activities like bulk messaging and e-mails.

Obtaining email addresses is also easy with the data brokers, which makes the whole exercise even more worrisome. This could lead to more and more online frauds.

Experts say this is a clear case of breach of individual privacy and misuse of data is a criminal offense.

“The practice of unsolicited sharing of personal data is illegal as per the IT Act. Lakhs of people are being harassed in the garb of marketing,” said Seshagiri Rao, a city-based advocate.

It is learnt that the offenders collect data from a range of sources including third-party entities associated with banks, commercial establishments and public events where individual customers provide contact details.

Once collected, the so-called data providers sell the data in bulk to real estate companies, quick-loan processing units and insurance companies.

Narendra Kumar, executive committee member, Swecha, a city-based non-profit organisation, said data leakage is on for a long time from both government and private entities. “Data privacy breach is not unknown to the enforcement authorities, but it is only a matter of implementing the laws,” he stated.

B.T. Srinivasan, general secretary, United Federation of Resident Welfare Associations, said, “This must be put to an end, especially because fake call centres have mushroomed here. Their modus operandi is to pose as executives of different multinational companies, for duping customers.”

Next Story