AT&T has made a huge $25 million mistake. The New York Times reports that the Federal Communications Commission slammed AT&T with a massive $25 million fine on Wednesday for “failing to protect the personal information, including the Social Security numbers, of its customers.” Essentially, employees at AT&T’s call centers in three different countries stole roughly 300,000 customers’ names and Social Security numbers and then sold them to third parties. That’s obvious a very bad thing.
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“The commission cannot — and will not — stand idly by when a carrier’s lax data security practices expose the personal information of hundreds of thousands,” FCC chairman Tom Wheeler said in announcing the fine.
In addition to paying the $25 million fine, AT&T will have to alert the affected customers and provide them with credit-monitoring services to ensure that their stolen Social Security numbers aren’t used to commit fraud. The Times says the FCC’s fine is “the largest for data security and privacy violations that the agency has ever issued,” but it sounds very deserved — after all, we are talking about employees stealing and selling Social Security numbers.