The Federal Communications Commission reached a $25 million settlement with AT&T Inc (NYSE:T) over a consumer data breach at call centers in Mexico, Colombia and the Philippines, the U.S. communications regulator said on Wednesday.
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The breaches led to unauthorized disclosure of names and full or partial Social Security numbers and illegal access to account information of about 280,000 U.S customers of AT&T, a senior FCC official told reporters on a conference call.
The data was used by call center employees to request handset-unlock codes for AT&T phones and shared with third parties who seem to have been trafficking stolen cell phones, the official said. The breaches occurred in 2013 and 2014.
AT&T said in a statement: "We are terminating vendor sites as appropriate. We’ve changed our policies and strengthened our operations."
The $25 million civil penalty levied on the No. 2 wireless carrier is the largest data security enforcement action to date, the FCC official added.
In October, the FCC imposed a $10 million fine on telecom companies TerraCom and YourTel for consumer privacy breaches.
The FCC launched an investigation into improper disclosure of customer information at AT&T's Mexico call centers in May. Shortly after that AT&T informed the agency of additional data breaches in Colombia and Philippines, the official said.
AT&T has been taking steps to inform affected customers, the company said.
(Reporting by Malathi Nayak; editing by Matthew Lewis and Andrew Hay)