recent work

Security of British mobile telephones in doubt, after numbers offered for sale over internet

The Telegraph has reported that the Accident Advice Helpline had “unwittingly” made use of information “gathered by spam text messages to find new business”.

An Indian firm gathered potential leads by means of spam text massages, passed them to a businessman in Thailand, who then sold the leads to a company based in Newcastle, which then passed potential claims to the Accident Advice Helpline.

The businessman in Thailand, a Mr Gary McNeish, who runs a firm called Tetrus, had purchased mobile phone data from a call centre in India – he has admitted that he “he failed to carry out checks on the data and took the seller’s word that it was opt-in data”.

Millions of text messages were sent out to the purchased data asking them to reply if they had a compensation claim, with replies sold to RT Analytics in Newcastle for between “£5 and £20 each.”

Under UK and European regulations selling personal data to third parties without permission is illegal.

Although Mr McNeish of Tetrus is adamant it is the first time he has used such a service, he is also adamant he would use the same company again because he was told “it was data that had been generated from opt-in telephone surveys and that is what it looked like.”

RT Analytics started purchasing leads from Tetrus in May, and also has a signed contract with Tetrus ensuring regulations wouldn’t be breached.

The Accident Advice Helpline is investigating how it managed to get involved with non-compliant data. It is thought it paid up to £500 for each lead from RT Analytics.

Christopher Graham, the Information Commissioner, is investigating the companies behind the messages.